Milestones in Neuroscience Research

Some of the best references for the events that document the history of the neurosciences are:

  1. M.A.B. Brazier. A History of the Electrical Activity of the Brain, London: Pitman, 1961
  2. M.A.B. Brazier. A History of Neurophysiology in the 19th Century, New York: Raven Press, 1988
  3. S. Finger. Origins of Neuroscience, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994
  4. F.C. Rose and W.F. Bynum. Historical Aspects of the Neurosciences. A Festschrift for Macdonald Critchely, New York: Raven Press, 1982

The following dates and events were gathered from several sources. These events are certainly not all of the important events to take place in neuroscience...just some of the ones that I have selected.

3000 B.C. to 0 A.D.

ca. 4000 B.C. - Euphoriant effect of poppy plant reported in Sumerian records
ca. 2700 B.C. - Shen Nung originates acupuncture
384-322 B.C. - Aristotle writes on sleep
335-280 B.C. - Herophilus (the "Father of Anatomy")

0 A.D. to 1500

177 - Galen lecture "On the Brain"

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1668 - l'Abbe Edme Mariotte discovers the blind spot
1673 - Joseph DuVerney uses experimental ablation technique in pigeons
1684 - Raymond Vieussens publishes "Neuronographia Universalis"
1695 - H. Ridley publishes "The Anatomy of the Brain"

1700 - 1800

1709 - Domenico Mistichelli describes pyramidal decussation
1740 - Emanuel Swedenborg publishes "Oeconomia regni animalis"
1782 - Francesco Gennari publishes work on "lineola albidior" (later known as the stripe of Gennari)
1786 - Felix Vicq d'Azyr discovers the locus coeruleus
1791 - Luigi Galvani publishes work on electrical stimulation of frog nerves

1800 - 1850

1800 - Alessandro Volta invents the wet cell battery
1800 - Humphrey Davy discovers nitrous oxide
1803 - Friedrich Serturner isolates morphine from opium
1805 - Felix Vicq d'Azyr discovers the red nucleus
1808 - Franz Joseph Gall publishes work on phrenology
1809 - Luigi Rolando uses galvanic current to stimulate cortex
1811 - Charles Bell discusses functional differences between dorsal and ventral roots of the spinal cord
1813 - Felix Vicq d'Azyr discovers the claustrum
1817 - James Parkinson publishes "An Essay of the Shaking Palsy"
1821 - Francois Magendie discusses functional differences between dorsal and ventral roots of the spinal cord
1822 - Karl Friedrich Burdach names cingular gyrus
1822 - Karl Friedrich Burdach distinguishes lateral and medial geniculate
1824 - John C. Caldwell publishes "Elements of Phrenology"
1824 - Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens details ablation to study behavior
1825 - John P. Harrison first argues against phrenology
1826 - Johannes Muller publishes theory of "specific nerve energies"
1837 - Jan Purkyne (Purkinje) describes cerebellar cells
1842 - Crawford W. Long uses ether on man
1844 - Robert Remak provides first illustration of 6-layered cortex
1846 - Carlo Matteucci invents the kymograph
1845 - Horace Wells uses nitrous oxide during a tooth extraction
1846 - William Morton demonstrates ether anesthesia at Mass. Gen. Hospital


1850 - 1900

1859 - Charles Darwin publishes "On the Origin of Species"
1861 - Paul Broca discusses cortical localization
1866 - John Langdon Haydon Down publishes work on congenital "idiots"
1870 - Eduard Hitzig and Gustav Fritsch discover cortical motor area of dog using electrical stimulation
1872 - George Huntington describes symptoms of a hereditary chorea
1873 - Camillo Golgi publishes first work on the silver nitrate method
1874 - Vladimir Alekseyevich Betz publishes work on giant pyramidal cells
1874 - Roberts Bartholow electrically stimulates human cortical tissue
1874 - Carl Wernicke publishes work on aphasias
1875 - Sir David Ferrier describes different parts of monkey motor cortex
1875 - Richard Caton is first to record electrical activity from the brain
1876 - Franz Christian Boll discovers rhodopsin
1877 - Jean-Martin Charcot publishes "Lectures on the Diseases of the Nervous System
1878 - W. Bevan Lewis publishes work on giant pyramidal cells of human precentral gyrus
1878 - Paul Broca publishes work on the "great limbic lobe"
1878 - W.R. Gowers publishes "Unilateral Gunshot Injury to the Spinal Cord
1879 - William Crookes invents the cathode ray tube
1880 - Edouard Gelineau introduces the word "narcolepsy"
1884 - Karl Koller discovers anesthetic properties of cocaine
1884 - Georges Gilles de la Tourette describes several movement disorders
1885 - C. Weigert introduces hematoxylin to stain myelin
1886 - V. Marchi publishes procedure to stain degenerating myelin
1887 - Sergei Korsakoff describes symptoms characteristic in alcoholics
1889 - Santiago Ramon y Cajal argues that nerve cells are independent elements
1889 - William His coins term "dendrite"
1891 - Wilhelm von Waldeyer coins the term "neuron"
1894 - Franz Nissl stains neurons with dahlia violet
1895 - William His first uses the term "hypothalamus"
1895 - Wilhelm Konrad Rontgen invents the X-ray
1896 - Rudolph Albert von Kolliker coins the term "axon"
1897 - Ivan Petrovich Pavlov publishes work on physiology of digestion
1897 - John Jacob Abel isolates adrenalin
1897 - Sir Charles Scott Sherrington coins term "synapse"
1898 - Edward L. Thorndike describes the "puzzle box"
1899 - August Bier uses intraspinal anesthesia with cocaine
1899 - Sigmund Freud publishes "The Interpretation of Dreams"


1900 - 1950

1905 - Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon have their first intelligence test
1906 - Alois Alzheimer describes patient with dementia
1906 - Golgi and Cajal-Nobel Prize-Structure of the Nervous System
1908 - V. Horsley and R.H. Clarke design stereotaxic instrument
1909 - Cushing is first to electrically stimulate human sensory cortex
1909 - Korbinian Brodmann describes 52 discrete cortical areas
1910 - Emil Kraepelin names "Alzheimer's disease"
1911 - Allvar Gullstrand-Nobel Prize-Optics of the eye
1914 - Robert Barany-Nobel Prize-Vestibular apparatus
1919 - Cecile Vogt describes over 200 cortical areas
1921 - Otto Loewi publishes work on "Vagusstoff"
1929 - Hans Berger demonstrates first human electroencephalogram
1929 - Karl Lashley defines "equipotentiality" and "mass action"
1927 - J. Wagner-Jauregg-Nobel Prize-Malaria to treat dementia paralyses
1932 - Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska invent the electron microscope
1932 - Edgar Douglas Adrian and Charles S. Sherrington share Nobel Prize for work on the function of neurons
1935 - Frederic Bremer uses cerveau isole prepartion to study sleep
1936 - Egas Moniz publishes work on the first human frontal lobotomy
1936 - Henry Hallett Dale and Otto Loewi share Nobel Prize for work on the chemical transmission between nerves
1937 - James Papez publishes work on limbic circuit
1937 - Heinrich Kluver and Paul Bucy publish work on bilateral temporal lobectomies
1944 - Joseph Erlanger and Herbert Spencer Gasser share Nobel Prize for work on the functions of single nerve fiber
1946 - Kenneth Cole develops the voltage clamp
1949 - A.C.A.F. Egas Moniz-Nobel Prize-Leucotomy to treat certain psychoses
1949 - Walter Rudolph Hess receives Nobel Prize for work on the "Interbrain"

1950 - present

1950 - Karl Lashley publishes "In Search of the Engram"
1953 - Eugene Aserinski and Nathaniel Kleitman describe rapid eye movements (REM) during sleep
1953 - H. Kluver and E. Barrera introduce Luxol fast blue MBS stain
1961 - Georg Von Bekesy-Nobel Prize-function of the cochlea
1963 - John Carew Eccles, Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Fielding Huxley share Nobel Prize for work on the mechanisms of the neuron cell membrane
1965 - Ronald Melzack and Patrick D. Wall publish gate control theory of pain
1967 - Ragnar Arthur Granit, Halden Keffer Hartline and George Wald share Nobel Prize for work on the mechanisms of vision
1970 - Society for Neuroscience is founded
1970 - Julius Axelrod, Bernard Katz and Ulf Svante von Euler share Nobel Prize for work on neurotransmitters
1973 - Konrad Z. Lorenz, Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch share Nobel Prize for work on ethology
1977 - Roger Guillemin and Andrew Victor Schally share Nobel Prize for work on peptides in the brain
1981 - David Hunter Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel-Nobel Prize-visual system
1981 - Roger Wolcott Sperry awarded Nobel Prize--functions brain hemispheres