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The purpose of that rubbery stuff inside the skull

  1. Dec 10, 2004 #1


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    I was listening to Christian talk radio this morning. The speaker said that Jewish people--or maybe it was exclusively males--sometimes wore "phylacteries." These were boxes with scriptures placed in them, and they were worn, presumably with the help of a strap, on the forehead. The speaker explained that doing this was their way of showing that they had the scriptures "in the front of their minds.”

    That got me to wondering how long ago this practice started. It must have been after a general consensus was formed that that chunk of cauliflower inside the skull was the organ that did our thinking for us. When did that idea become accepted? Hundreds of years ago? Thousands?

    I would think that there must have been times when a tribesman was wounded in the head by a fall from a tree or a wallop from an enemy club, such that brain damage was done. The others may have noticed that ever after, Ug talked funny and couldn’t walk in a straight line. Would that have been enough to start an oral tradition that the gelatinous gray stuff in the head was where our motor controls were located? Are there any ancient books that mention such a thing?

    I no longer remember where, but I once read that there was a time when it was thought by some that the brain’s main function was to cool the blood. The heart, on the other hand, noticeably sped up under stressful conditions, leading folks to think that it was where the mind was located. Has anybody heard this?
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  3. Dec 11, 2004 #2
  4. Dec 11, 2004 #3


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    Thanks for the links, gerben. Around 200 A.D. at least one person (Galen) figured the brain was the source of motor control. And it was Aristotle who started the false ideas of my last paragraph.
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