1- The beginnings of neuroscience: the mind and the brain

There have been many controversies surrounding neuroscience. The first arguments occurred hundreds of years ago and involved philosophical debates about the relationship between the mind and the brain. Scholars had argued for many centuries about whether the mind and the brain worked in conjunction with each other (Monist theory), or were two separate, independently functioning parts (Dualist theory). Aristotle was one of the first philosophers to pursue the Dualist theory, as he believed that the heart housed the mind, and the brain was a “radiator used to cool the heart” (History). Yet neurology was in its infant stages, and the knowledge slowly began to progress. Rene Descartes used the previous beliefs to derive that fluids were in nerves, and that these fluids transported valuable information throughout the body.

Both of these theories have impacted CONNECT by leading to further investigation involving nerve endings.

2- Neuroscience of the twentieth century: defining the neuron

Once neuroscience became a heavily debated issue, more controversies developed. These centered round the neuron itself. There were discrepancies amongst philosophers, especially surrounding the function of the newly discovered neuron. In 1906, Santiago Ramon Y Cajal proposed the Neuron Doctrine, which looked at the organization and function of the nervous system.

Cajal's Nobel Prize winning doctrine was comprised of three parts: One, neurons are discrete and autonomous cells that can interact; two, synapses are gaps that separate neurons; three, information is transmitted in one direction from dendrites (input) to the axon (output) (Cajal).

With this proposal, neural communication became a focal point in nervous system research.

3- Neuroscience and technology today: working to save lives

The discoveries of diseases affecting the nervous system have sparked interest in nerve cell technologies, and a perfect example of this is Multiple Sclerosis (MS). For centuries, people have been affected by MS, and it was not until 1868 that Jean-Martin Charcot, of the University of Paris, examined an unknown tremor in a young patient. Upon the patient’s death, Charcot examined her brain, and noticed scars, known as plaques, indicative of MS. After writing a full report of what he had discovered, he attempted to use various treatments such as electric stimulation and even poison (a nerve stimulant). He even used injections of gold and silver, commonly used to meliorate other neurological diseases, but these proved insufficient to treat MS (History of MS).

Charcot’s discovery and many others like it have paved the path for important advances in neuroscience like CONNECT.