Phrenology was a pseudoscience introduced in the late 18th century that tried to explain your behaviour, personality, intelligence and so on based on the shape of your head. It was almost all wrong but it had many positive impacts, or example in promoting a more compassionate approach to mental illness. On the negative side it fuelled many baseless racist ideas. In this talk, Professor David Price will discuss what phrenology was and why it became particularly prominent in Edinburgh, how it influenced contemporary thinking and what has replaced it in our current understanding of how the brain works.
About the Speaker:
While studying Medicine at Edinburgh University he became fascinated by how the brain works and how it self-constructs so rapidly during development. He went on to do a PhD at Oxford University with Professor Colin Blakemore, studying how visual experience shapes the development and function of the visual cortex. At that time, in the mid-80s, exciting new discoveries in invertebrates drew him towards research on the genetics of early brain development. To pursue this, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley in the USA before returning to the UK to set up his own laboratory in Edinburgh. His research since has focussed on understanding the genetic mechanisms of forebrain development.