Introduction to Neuroscience

Hello, and welcome to our UMW blog. Our Names are Travis, Nick, and Neil, and we are undergraduate students at the University of Mary Washington. We have designed this website in order to educate the public on the History of Neuroscience.

Background Information On Neuroscience
Neuroscience refers to the study of the nervous system which includes, but is not limited to, the study of the brain, spinal cord, and the nerve cells that are found throughout the human body (Society for Neuroscience, 2010). Since the purpose of our website is to focus mainly on the historical development of Neuroscience, we will not be going into great depth of what the field of neuroscience refers to.  If you would like more information about what Neuroscience is, you can read what the core concepts of neuroscience are according to the Society of Neuroscience by clicking here.

The field of Neuroscience covers a tremendous amount of information, so we have decided to focus on three categories within neuroscience. The three fields we will focus on are: the history of neurons, the history of neurosurgery and localization, and ethics dealing with neuroscience.

Origins of Neuroscience

Man’s interest in the nervous system dates back to the Neolithic era (about 10,000 years ago). Archaeologists have discovered skulls from that time period which had trepenation performed on them (Finger, 1994). That is, these skulls appeared to have pieces purposefully removed. This shows that man has for a very long time been aware of the mysterious powers that the brain, a part of the nervous system, has over our consciousness.

As a scientific discipline however, neuroscience is, in comparison, relatively new.   Unfortunately, it is difficult to put an exact date on when neuroscience officially became a scientific discipline, but we are aware of key events that brought both knowledge and greater awareness to this ever growing field of study.  These critical events are listed in the timeline under the history of neurons tab.

There appears to be somewhat of a dispute as of when Neuroscience became a big enough field to go from being  interdisciplinary to becoming its own separate, distinct discipline.  Cowan, Harter, and Kandel (2000) suggest that neuroscience became its own discipline in the 1950s, while Rosvall and Bergstrom (2010) suggest that it was not until the year 2005 that Neuroscience could officially claim itself as a sole discipline (graph below).  Either way, we know that neuroscience is a new and growing field of science.


Cowan, W.M., Harter, D.H. & Kandel, E.R. (2000). The emergence of modern           neuroscience: Some implications for neurology and psychiatry. Annual Review of           Neuroscience, 23, 343 – 391. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.23.1.343

Finger, S. (1994). Origins of neuroscience: a history of explorations into brain function.           Retrieved from

Fitzgerald, E. (2008).  Crane-trepanation [Photo]. Retrieved November 28, 2010           from

Rosvall, M., Bergstrom, C. T. (2010). Mapping change in large networks. PLoS ONE, 5. Retrieved November 28, 2010 from″>

Society for Neuroscience (2010). What is neuroscience? Retrieved           from

This page was created by Neil Thorne

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