Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I think, therefore I am - NEUROSCIENCE

The brain of René Descartes (1650): A neuro-anatomical analysis

Brain of Monsieur Descartes is now dust, but it hasn't stopped researchers from scanning the inside of his skull to learn more about his grey matter - which it turns out is remarkably normal, except for a slight bulge at the front.

Research carried out by a team of French and Dutch scientists involved creating a virtual endocast based on a CT-scan of Descartes' brain case, which allowed them to study the size, shape, and surface of the philosopher's brain compared with 102 physical casts from a diversity of other specimens.

Descartes' revolutionary contributions to philosophy and mathematics suggest his mind was somewhat remarkable, but whether extraordinary minds reflect extraordinary lumps of brain meat has been a topic of interest for anatomists for centuries.

The researchers in this latest study concluded that – for the most part – Renee Descartes had a rather mundane brain.
The cast's total volume was 1540 cubic centimetres (94 cubic inches), which is in the ballpark of the average modern male brain.

One area did happen to stand out slightly, however.
The frontal cortex seemed to bulge on the left, due to a larger development of the front portion of the parietal lobe. It corresponds with a part of the brain called Brodmann area 45 – a zone responsible for our ability to apply words to concepts.

Journal article:


Photo credit: C. Philippe et al. Journal of the Neurological Sciences 378

Corina Marinescu

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