Sam Kean: "The Tale Of The Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History Of The Human Brain As Revealed By True Stories Of Trauma, Madness, And Recovery"

Nicole Briggs looks at a real human brain being displayed as part of new exhibition at the @Bristol attraction on March 8, 2011 in Bristol, England.   - Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Nicole Briggs looks at a real human brain being displayed as part of new exhibition at the @Bristol attraction on March 8, 2011 in Bristol, England.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Sam Kean: "The Tale Of The Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History Of The Human Brain As Revealed By True Stories Of Trauma, Madness, And Recovery"

Long before advanced imaging technology, scientists relied on behavioral changes to learn about the human brain. How injuries and freak accidents contributed to modern neuroscience.

Before the era of MRIs, CT scans and EEGs, extremely little was known about the workings of the human brain. Observation was one of the best tools scientists had -- especially when a head injury was followed by behavioral changes in the patient. A new book tells the history of brain science through stories of tragic and often bizarre accidents, from the tale of railroad foreman Phineas Gage, who lived a dozen years after an iron spike pierced his skull, to the thousands of Civil War amputees who experienced phantom limb syndrome. We discuss how neuroscientists used case studies to advance knowledge of the brain.

Guests

Sam Kean

science writer and author of "The Disappearing Spoon" and "The Violinist's Thumb."

Read An Excerpt

Excerpted from the book THE TALE OF THE DUELING NEUROSURGEONS by Sam Kean. Copyright © 2014 by Sam Kean. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.

Dueling Neurosurgeons

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