Soul, mind, brain: Greek philosophy and the birth of neuroscience

Enrico Crivellato, Domenico Ribatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nature of "soul" and the source of "psychic life", the anatomical seat of cognitive, motor and sensory functions, and the origin of neural diseases were broadly debated by ancient Greek scientists since the earliest times. Within the space of few centuries, speculation of philosophers and medical thinkers laid the foundations of modern experimental and clinical neuroscience. This review provides a brief history of the leading doctrines on the essence of soul and the properties of mind professed by Greek philosophers and physicians as well as the early attempts to localize brain faculties and to explain neural disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 9 2007


  • Alexandrine medicine
  • Aristotle
  • Cardiocentrism
  • Encephalocentrism
  • Galen
  • Hippocratic medicine
  • History of neuroscience
  • Plato
  • Presocratic philosophers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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