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The Mind Before Neurology, Descartes's Ambiguous Legacy, Thomas Willis And The Birth Of Neurology

The science of mind is the empirical and theoretical search for the foundations of our mental lives. Unlike other subjects of scientific investigation, such as stars or rocks, human mental lives defy easy definition. Yet few would dispute that such a definition would have to encompass consciousness, emotions, reasoning, language, memory, and perception. As far back as ancient Greece, one can find accounts of how these faculties are produced by the body or the soul. But it was only in the seventeenth century that they became subjects of modern scientific investigation. In the subsequent centuries, scientists have sought to dissect the mind into its components, and to assign those components to different structures of the brain. While a full history of the science of mind would demand thousands of pages, a survey of a few key topics can give a sense of its development.

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