Brain Awareness Week

By Lisa O’Sullivan, Director

Ambroise Paré, The brain and nerves of the head and neck, p134, Les Oeuvres

Ambroise ParéThe brain and nerves of the head and neck, p134, Les Oeuvres

This week is Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to celebrate the brain and increase awareness of brain research. Treating the brain has a long history; trepanning, or trepanation, is one of the oldest known surgical procedures.

The brain featured in today’s post comes from Les Oeuvres d’Ambroise Paré, currently being treated in our conservation laboratory. The work was the culmination of the 16th century French barber-surgeon’s long and successful career, which saw him become royal surgeon for a number of French kings.

Les Oeuvres d’Ambroise Paré was first published in 1575, and was subsequently expanded in multiple new editions. It was groundbreaking on a number of levels, written in the vernacular French, rather than Latin, it included not only anatomical depictions and descriptions of procedures, but illustrations of the instruments used in surgery, many of which Paré had modified or developed himself.

2 thoughts on “Brain Awareness Week

  1. Fascinating diagram! I can see several of the cranial nerves well illusrated in this image, although the branches of the trigeminal n. don’t seem to come out of the brainstem together. The spinal accessory n. must be that thick band on the left, which gives off its branches pretty much as we currently understand their distribution. And it looks like the recurrent laryngeal n. is coming off the thick band to the right, which I’m guessing must be the vagus n. Good work, Pare! But I don’t see the spinal cord. That must be burried in the bony vertebral column. Still, the skull has been removed to show the brain. Cool image, if somewhat fanciful. The gyri are more turbulent that any I’ve seen.
    BTW, I couldn’t pull up the link on Brain Awareness Week.
    Best wishes with your conservation efforts.

    • Thank you! The image is from the 1633 edition – isn’t it interesting to compare it to what we know now? It leads one to reflect on how much progress has been made through brain research. The link is fixed – thanks for pointing it out!

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