The Idea of the Brain: A History

Author(s): Matthew Cobb

Sciences | Mind & Consciousness

We've been trying to make sense of the link between our minds and our bodies since the very dawn of civilisation. Now the pace is hotting up.


Join the biologist and historian Matthew Cobb (Life's Greatest Secret) to explore the weird theories, blasphemous experiments and terrifying operating theatres that got us here, to the cusp of revelation. Written with ambition and verve and rooted in a solid scientific explanation of the issues, The Idea of the Brain spans the centuries to reveal how the lives and works of a parade of philosophers, surgeons, mystics and neuroscientists have shaped the way we understand ourselves at the most profound level.


From primitive dissections to the latest complex computational models of brain function, Cobb charts the course of this continuing quest, and prepares us for the astonishing discoveries to come.

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An intellectual tour de force, and a brilliant demonstration of how a historical approach is often the best way of explaining difficult scientific problems ... Cobb combines scholarship with clarity to a remarkable degree ... For anybody who wants to understand the depths of our understanding of our brains, and our even deeper ignorance, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. -- Henry Marsh New Statesman

Sweeping and electrifyingly sceptical -- James McConnachie Sunday Times

Cobb is a rare jewel. [The Idea of the Brain] is a typically erudite, thrilling and thorough exploration of the most complex thing in the known universe. -- Adam Rutherford  the Week

An engrossing journey through the centuries ... Cobb explores memory, circuits, computers, chemistry, localization of function and consciousness. In clear and lively prose, he introduces us to the characters, personalities, and debates of each era ... The reader will come away from this illuminating history of thinking about the brain with a renewed appreciation of the task that remains ... in the final section Mr. Cobb offers glimmers of the dazzling possibilities. -- Carol Tavris Wall Street Journal

Ambitious intellectual history ... It is a very good book -- Stephen Casper  Nature

Enthralling -- Shane O'Mara  Times Higher Education

Fascinating ... instructive -- Simon Ings New Scientist

Cobb's erudition and engaging writing style take us on an enthralling journey -- Alex Gomez-Marin  Science

A riveting account of brain research, our current knowledge, and problems yet to be solved --Kirkus Reviews 

General Fields

  • : 9781781255896
  • : Profile Books Limited
  • : Profile Books Ltd
  • : July 2019
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Matthew Cobb
  • : Hardback
  • : Jul-19
  • : English
  • : 400