Listen to A History of the Brain in 10 parts

Dr Geoff Bunn from Manchester Metropolitan University is presenting a 10-part series entitled A History of the Brain for BBC Radio 4. The first part A Hole in the Head,looks at trepanning and will be broadcast today (Monday 7 November) at 1.45 p.m..

The series is also written by Dr Bunn, who chairs the Society’s History and Philosophy of Psychology Section.Dr Bunn was the BPS Centenary Fellow at the Science Museum from 1999 to 2001.

The actors Paul Bhattacharjee and Jonathan Forbes provide the voices of those who have written about the brain across the ages. Actor Hattie Morahan gives the ‘Anatomy Lesson’ establishing the part of the brain to be highlighted in each episode - in the case of the first one it is the cranium and the meninges. The original, atmospheric score is supplied by composer, Barney Quinton.

You can read an interview that Dr Bunn gave to Peter Dillon-Hooper in the November issue of The Psychologist.

Asked why his series will be of interest to psychologists, he replies:

"It’s fascinating the way the brain has always been conceptualised alongside speculations concerning the soul, the mind or the self. But whereas knowledge of the brain always runs in parallel to the state of biological knowledge at any time, the mind can only ever be thought about it terms appropriate to that particular culture.

"The eighteenth century understood the brain in very egalitarian terms, but the nineteenth century read into it an opposition between the ‘primitive’ and the ‘civilised’. Today, we consider the computer metaphor of the brain quite plausible because of the way computers have permeated out lives."

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