Scientists, musicians, poets, comedians, writers, advertisers...they all
have thoughts about the brain. Take your pick from these quotes. You may
agree with some of the quotes - you may disagree with others. All of them
should make you think!|
- Diane Ackerman (from An Alchemy of Mind. The Marvel and
Mystery of the Brain, 2004)
- Shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread, our brain is a
crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations.
Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament
of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone,
that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that
fickle pleasuredome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the
skull like too many clothes into a gym bag.
- W. Ross Adey (from The Mind: Biological Approaches To Its
- I am often reminded of the image that one might just as well try to
understand the sort of people that live in a city like Los Angeles by
looking at the traffic patterns on the freeways, as to look at the
transmission characteristics in the brain and expect to tell what sort of
houses the people lived in, and whether they had Picassos on the walls or
preferred the music of the Beatles.
- E.D. Adrian (from The Physical Background of Perception,
- In fact, if we are to understand ourselves better than we
do now, I have no doubt that we must try to unravel all these complicated
activities of the living matter in our brain.
- Aesop (from Aesop's Fables, The Fox and the Mask)
- A Fox entered the house of an actor and, rummaging through all
his properties, came upon a Mask, an admirable imitation of a human head.
He placed his paws on it and said, "What a beautiful head! Yet it is of
no value, as it entirely lacks brains."
- John S. Allen (from The Lives of the Brain, 2009)
- The brain is truly wonderful and complex, seamlessly and apparently
effortlessly able to attend to multiple tasks at the same time. However,
the human brain, via religion or science, art or technology, has yet to
figure itself out.
- John M. Allman (from Evolving Brains, 2000)
- Brains exist because the distribution of resources necessary for
survival and the hazards that threaten survival vary in space and
- William F. Allman (from Apprentices of Wonder. Inside the Neural
Network Revolution, 1989)
- The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess. Its billions of nerve
cells - called neurons - lie in a tangled web that displays cognitive
powers far exceeding any of the silicon machines we have built to mimic
- Susan Allport (from Explorers of the Black Box. The Search for the
Cellular Basis of Memory, 1986)
- Most of us have spent some time wondering how our brain works. Brain
scientists spend their entire lives pondering it, looking for a way to
begin asking the question, How does the brain generate mind? The brain,
after all, is so complex an organ and can be approached from so many
different directions using so many different techniques and experimental
animals that studying it is a little like entering a blizzard, the Casbah,
a dense forest. It's easy enough to find a way in - an interesting
phenomenon to study - but also very easy to get lost.
- American Proverbs
- Half a brain is too much for him who says little.
We need brain more than belly food.
Brain is worth more than brawn.
Where there are no brains, there is no feeling.
The less the brains, the bigger the hat.
You can borrow brains, but you can't borrow character.
- Amy (from The Big Bang Theory TV show)
- I study the brain, the organ reponsible for Beethoven's 5th Symphony.
Bernadette studies yeast, the organism responsible for Michelob
- Anonymous (from A. Nonny Mouse Writes Again! by J.
- Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Oil those brains
Before they rust.
- Anonymous (from Scientific American, "The Printer's Song,"
Vol. 1, number 11, Nov. 27, 1845)
- We catch the thought, all glowing warm,
As it leaves the student's brain;
And place the stamp of enduring form
On Poet's airy strain.
- Aristotle (from De motu animalium, 4th century B.C.)
- The seat of the soul and the control of voluntary movement - in fact,
of nervous functions in general, - are to be sought in the heart. The
brain is an organ of minor importance.
- And of course, the brain is not responsible for any of the sensations
at all. The correct view is that the seat and source of sensation is the
region of the heart.
- Isaac Asimov (from the foreword to The Three-Pound Universe by
J. Hooper and D. Teresi, 1986)
- The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter
that we know.
- David Bainbridge (from The Strange Anatomy of the Brain, New
Scientist, January 26, 2008.)
- The modern geography of the brain has a deliciously antiquated feel to
it -- rather like a medieval map with the known world encircled by terra
incognito where monsters roam.
- Dave Barry
- The nuclear generator of brain sludge is television.
- Danielle S. Bassett and Michael S. Gazzaniga (from Understanding
complexity in the human brain, Trends Cogn Sci.,15:200-209, 2011)
- The human mind is a complex phenomenon built on the physical scaffolding
of the brain, which neuroscientific investigation continues to examine
in great detail.
- L. Frank Baum (the "Scarecrow" in The Wonderful Wizard of
- No, indeed; I don't know anything. You see, I am stuffed, so I have
no brains at all.
- The Beatles (from the song I'm So Tired)
- You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain.
- Sharon Begley (from In Our Messy, Reptilian Brains, Newsweek
magazine, April 9, 2007)
- With modern parts atop old ones, the brain is like an iPod built
around an eight-track cassette player.
- Charles Bell (from The Anatomy of the Brain, Explained in a
Series of Engravings, 1802)
- In the Brain the appearance is so peculiar, and so little capable of
illustration from other parts of the body, the surfaces are so soft, and
so easily destroyed by rude dissection, and it is so difficult to follow
an abstract description merely, that this part of Anatomy cannot be
studied without the help of Engravings.
- Charles Bell (from The Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain,
- All ideas originate in the brain: the operation producing them is the
remote effect of an agitation or impression on the extremities of the
nerves of sense; directly they are consequences of a change or operation
in the proper organ of the sense which constitutes a part of the brain,
and over these organs, once brought into action by external impulse, the
mind has influence.
- Tim Berners-Lee (from Weaving The Web: the original design and
ultimate destiny of the world wide web by its inventor, 1999)
- There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons?
Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between
neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons
- R.J.A. Berry (from Brain and Mind or The Nervous System of Man,
- An intimate acquaintance with some of the structural features of the
human brain is thus seen to be not only necessary to the physician, but
also to the psychologist, the educationalist, and the social
- Leonardo Bianchi (from The Mechanism of the Brain and the Function
of the Frontal Lobes, 1922)
- The brain is the great factory of thought. To it are directed all the
forces of nature, forces which, for thousands of years, have been
expending themselves upon it and impressing on it a slow and continuous
motion of evolution.
- Maurice Alpheus Bigelow and Ann N. Bigelow (from Introduction to
Biology: An Elementary Textbook and Laboratory Guide, 1913)
- Nervous exhaustion from mental overwork is most often due to neglect of
this rule and the brain worker should limit his regular day's work to a
reasonable number of hours per day and those when the brain is at its
- Alfred Binet (from The Mind and the Brain, 1907)
- The force of our consciousness, the correctness of our judgments, our
tempers and our characters, the state of health of our minds, and also
their troubles, their weaknesses, and even their existence, are all in a
state of strict dependence on the condition of our bodies, more
precisely with that of our nervous systems, or, more precisely still,
with the state of those three pounds of proteid substance which each of
us has at the back of his forehead, and which are called our brains.
- Tim Birkhead (from Bird Sense. What It's Like to Be a Bird,
- Although we tend to think of the brain as a discrete organ - a lump of
squidgy tissue - it is better to think of it as part of an elaborate
network of nervous tissue that reaches out to every single part of the
- Keith Black (quoted in Discover magazine, April, 2004)
- If you look at the anatomy, the structure, the function, there's
nothing in the universe that's more beautiful, that's more complex, than
the human brain.
- Colin Blakemore (from Mechanics of the Mind, 1977)
- The brain struggling to understand the brain is society trying to
- Susan Blakemore (from "Meme, Myself, I", New Scientist, March
- In proportion to our body mass, our brain is three times as large
as that of our nearest relatives. This huge organ is dangerous and painful
to give birth to, expensive to build and, in a resting human, uses about
20 per cent of the body's energy even though it is just 2 per cent of the
body's weight. There must be some reason for all this evolutionary
- Floyd E. Bloom (in Fundamental Neuroscience edited by L.R.
Squire et al., 2003)
- As we begin the 21st century, the Hubble space telescope is providing
us with information about as yet uncharted regions of the universe and
the promise that we may learn something about the origin of the cosmos.
This same spirit of adventure is also being directed to the most complex
structure that exists in the universe - the human brain.
- Floyd E. Bloom (in the Introduction to Best of the Brain from
Scientific American, New York: Dana Press, 2007)
- The study of the human brain and its disease remains one of the
greatest scientific and philosophical challenges ever undertaken.
- Charles E. Boklage (from "Twinning, handedness, and the biology of
symmetry," in Cerebral Dominance. The Biological Foundations edited
by N. Geschwind and A.M. Galaburda, 1984)
- Whatever happens in the mind of man is represented in the actions and
interactions of brain cells.
- Erma Bombeck
- Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be
declared brain dead.
- Ambrose Bierce
- Brain: an apparatus with which we think that we think.
- Mind, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain.
- Lord Brain (from Science and Man, 1966 and yes,
that is his real name)
- Just as brain development has greatly increased the range and scope of
perception (that is, the receptive side of its activities) so it has
enhanced the range and power of man's control over his
- Paul Broca (as quoted by von Bonin in 1950)
- There are in the human mind a group of faculties and in the brain
groups of convolutions, and the facts assembled by science so far allow
to state, as I said before, that the great regions of the mind
correspond to the great regions of the brain.
- Richard D. Broadwell (from Neuroscience, Memory and the Brain,
- We sit on the threshold of important new advances in neuroscience that
will yield increased understanding of how the brain functions and of more
effective treatments to heal brain disorders and diseases. How the brain
behaves in health and disease may well be the most important question in
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (from Faust, 1808)
- Ah! my poor brain is racked and crazed,
My spirit and senses amazed!
- Helen Gurley Brown
- Beauty can't amuse you, but brainwork -- reading, writing, thinking --
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- Children use the fist until they are of age to use the brain.
- Archie Bunker (character in All in the Family, 1971)
- You'd better start mixing toothpaste with your shampoo. You're
getting a cavity in your brain.
- Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen (in the Academy Award-winning song
Swinging on a Star recorded by Bing Crosby in 1944)
- A mule is an animal with long funny ears
Kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule.
- Burma Shave roadside advertisement
- Don't lose
To gain a minute
You need your head
Your brains are in it.
- George Bush (from Presidential Proclamation 6158, July 17,
- I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby
proclaim the decade beginning January 1, 1990, as the Decade of the Brain.
I call upon all public officials and the people of the United States to
observe that decade with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and
- Pierre Cabanis (from Traite du physique et du moral de l'homme,
Second Memoir, 1802)
- Impressions arriving at the brain make it enter into activity, just as
food falling into the stomach excites it to more abundant secretion of
- Santiago Ramon y Cajal (in Charlas de cafe: pensamientos,
anecdotas y confidencias, Madrid: Imprenta de Juan Pueyo Luna,
- As long as our brain is a mystery, the universe, the reflection of the
structure of the brain will also be a mystery.
- Santiago Ramon y Cajal
- The brain is a world consisting of a number of unexplored continents
and great stretches of unknown territory.
- Santiago Ramon y Cajal (from Recuerdos de mi vida, 1901)
- Every man if he so desires becomes sculptor of his own brain.
- Santiago Ramon y Cajal (from Recollections of My Life,
- To know the brain...is equivalent to ascertaining the material
course of thought and will, to discovering the intimate history of
life in its perpetual duel with external forces.
- Car Advertisement
- The brain: mind-boggling. But whatever mysteries that lie within its
folds, there's no better stimulation for the brain of a driver than an
empty road, a full tank of fuel and energizing music over the sound
- Lewis Carroll (from Sylvie and Bruno, 1890)
- My hand moves because certain forces----electric, magnetic, or
whatever 'nerve-force' may prove to be----are impressed on it by my brain.
This nerve-force, stored in the brain, would probably be traceable, if
Science were complete, to chemical forces supplied to the brain by the
blood, and ultimately derived from the food I eat and the air I
- Cindy (character in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy
- I washed your brain, but I had trouble getting the think stains
- Edward Clarke (from Vision: A Study of False Sight, 1878)
- Sleep affords the opportunity, within certain limits, for the brain to
act of itself, and dreams are the result.
- Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Inception,
- Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it's almost impossible to
- Charles Coppens (from Moral Principles and Medical Practice The
Basis of Medical Jurisprudence, 1897)
- For the brain is the organ not of the imagination alone, which is put
to an unhealthy strain by excessive mental labor, but probably also of the
passions, whose emotions when excessive may cause even permanent
- William C. Corning (from The Mind: Biological Approaches To Its
- In the study of brain functions we rely upon a biased, poorly
understood, and frequently unpredictable organ in order to study the
properties of another such organ; we have to use a brain to study a
- George Costanza (from "The Reverse Peephole" episode of
Seinfeld TV show, 1998)
- Because important things go in a case. You got a skull for your brain,
a plastic sleeve for your comb, and a wallet for your money.
- Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield (from Frontiers of Complexity.
The Search for Order in a Chaotic World, R., New York: Fawcett
Columbine, 1995, p. 279)
- It is unmatched in its ability to think, to communicate, and to
reason. Most striking of all, it has a unique awareness of its identity
and of its place in space and time. Welcome to the human brain, the
cathedral of complexity.
- Apollo Creed (character played by Carl Weathers in the movie
- Sports make you grunt and smell. Stay in school, use your brains. Be a
thinker, not a stinker.
- Francis Crick (from What Mad Pursuit, 1988)
- It is essential to understand our brains in some detail if we are to
assess correctly our place in this vast and complicated universe we see
all around us.
- Francis H.C. Crick (from Scientific American, September,
- There is no scientific study more vital to man than the study of his
own brain. Our entire view of the universe depends on it.
- MacDonald Critchley (from The Divine Banquet of the Brain,
- We must admit that the divine banquet of the brain was, and still is,
a feast with dishes that remain elusive in the blending, and with sauces
whose ingredients are even now a secret.
- William Cullen (1710-1790; from Institutions of Medicine,
- Sensation and volition, so far as they are connected with corporeal
motions, are functions of the brain alone...the will operating in the
brain only, by a motion begun there, and propagated along the nerves,
produces the contraction of the muscles.
- Antonio R. Damasio (from How the Brain Creates the Mind, Sci.
American (Special Issue), vol. 12, p. 4, 2002.
- More may have been learned about the brain and the mind in the 1990s
-- the so-called decade of the brain -- than during the entire previous
history of psychology and neuroscience.
- Charles Darwin (from The Origin of Species, 1859)
- It is certain that there may be extraordinary mental activity with an
extremely small absolute mass of nervous matter: thus the wonderfully
diversified instincts, mental powers, and affections of ants are
notorious, yet their cerebral ganglia are not so large as the quarter of a
small pin's head. Under this point of view, the brain of an ant is one of
the most marvelous atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so than the
brain of a man.
- Charles Darwin (from Autobiography, 1887)
- If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some
poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the
parts of my brain now atrophied could thus have been kept active through
- Charles Darwin (from The Descent of Man, and Selection in
Relation to Sex, 1871.)
- It is certain that there may be extraordinary activity with an
extremely small absolute mass of nervous matter; thus the wonderfully
diversified instincts, mental powers, and affections of ants are
notorious, yet their cerebral ganglia are not so large as the quarter of
a small pin's head. Under this point of view, the brain of an ant is one
of the most marvellous atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so
than the brain of man.
- Joel Davis (from Mapping the Mind: The Secrets of the Human
Brain and How it Works, 1997)
- The human brain is the last, and greatest, scientific frontier. It is
truly an internal cosmos that lies contained within our skulls. The more
than 100 billion nerve cells and trillion supporting cells that make up
your brain and mine constitute the most elaborate structure in the known
- William Henry Day (from Headaches; their Nature, Causes, and
- The brain cannot stand like a monument, and maintain its
- Edward De Bono (from Daily Mail, 1990)
- Humour is by far the most significant activity of the human
- Peter de Vries (from Comfort Me with Apples)
- We know the human brain is a device to keep the ears from grating on
- Jose M.R. Delgado (from Physical Control of the Mind,
- The brain, or cerebrum, is a material entity located inside the skull
which may be inspected, touched, weighed, and measured. It is composed of
chemicals, enzymes, and humors which may be analyzed. Its structure is
characterized by neurons, pathways, and synapses which may be examined
directly when they are properly magnified.
- William C. Dement (from The Promise of Sleep, 1999, p.
- Sleep deprivation is the most common brain impairment.
- Daniel C. Dennett (from Consciousness Explained, 1991)
- The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a
suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For
this task it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and
takes root, it doesn't need its brain any more so it eats it. It's rather
like getting tenure.
- Rene Descartes (quoted in Minds Behind the Brain.
A History of the Pioneers and Their Discoveries by S. Finger,
- There is a little gland in the brain in which the soul exercises its
functions in a more particular way than in the other parts.
- Marian C. Diamond and Arnold B. Scheibel (in The Human Brain
Coloring Book, 1985)
- The human brain is the most complex mass of protoplasm on
earth-perhaps even in our galaxy.
- Emily Dickinson (in Johnson, T.H. (editor), The Complete Poems of
Emily Dickinson, Boston (MA): Little, Brown and Company, 1890.
- The Brain-is wider than the Sky-
For-put them side by side-
The one the other will contain
With ease-and You-beside.
The Brain is deeper than the sea -
For - hold them - Blue to Blue -
The one the other will absorb -
As Sponges - Buckets - do -
- Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Mazarin
- I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.
- Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes, in The Adventure of the
Blue Carbuncle, 1948)
- A man with so large a brain must have something in it.
- Dutch Proverbs
- A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains.
An ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains.
- Dr. Seuss (from Oh, the places you'll go!, 1990)
- You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
- Dr. Seuss
- I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.
- Dr. Seuss (from You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch)
- You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
- Bob Dylan (from Unbelievable, 1990)
- Every brain is civilized,
Every nerve is analyzed,
Everything is criticized when you are in need.
- John C. Eccles (from The Understanding of the Brain, 1977)
- I can state with complete assurance that for each of us our brains
form the material basis of our experiences and memories, our imaginations,
- John C. Eccles (from The Future of the Brain Sciences, edited
by Samuel Bogoch, 1969)
- A better understanding of the brain is certain to lead man to a richer
comprehension both of himself, of his fellow man, and of society, and in
fact of the whole world with its problems.
- John C. Eccles (quoted by C.C. Pfeiffer in Mental and Elemental
- The last thing that man will understand in nature is the performance
of his brain.
- Gerald M. Edelman (from Neuroscience, Memory and the Brain,
- A knowledge of brain science will provide one of the major
foundations of the new age to come. That knowledge will spawn
cures for disease, new machines based on brain function, further
insights into our nature and how we know.
- Albert Einstein
- Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its
creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too
little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (from a radio broadcast on June 3, 1957)
- Dollars and guns are no substitutes for brains and will power.
- H. Chandler Elliott (from The Shape of Intelligence. The Evolution
of the Human Brain, 1969)
- The brain is the man; its health is essential for normal living; its
disorders are surely the most profound of human miseries; and its
destruction annihilates a person humanly, however intact his body.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Ideas must work through the brains and arms of men, or they are
no better than dreams.
- English Proverbs
- If the brain sows not corn, it plants thistles.
Money spent on brain is never spent in vain.
- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, Surgeon-Extraordinary to
Queen Victoria in 1873.
- The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the
intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.
- William Feindel (from the Introduction in The Mystery of
the Mind, by Wilder Penfield, Princeton (NJ): Princeton University
- Made up of a dozen billion microscopic nerve-cell units
interconnected by millions upon millions of conducting nerve-threads
weaving incredibly intricate patterns, the brain, as an object of
research, presents a defiant challenge to its own ingenuity.
- David Ferrier (from The Functions of the Brain, 1876)
- There is, perhaps, no subject in physiology of greater importance and
general interest than the functions of the brain, and there are few which
present to experimental investigation conditions of greater intricacy and
- Katrina Firlik (from Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain
Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside, New York: Random House, 2006)
- I am a neurosurgeon. The brain is my business.
- Gerald D. Fischbach (from Scientific American, September,
- The brain immediately confronts us with its great complexity. The
human brain weighs only three to four pounds but contains about 100
billion neurons. Although that extraordinary number is of the same order
of magnitude as the number of stars in the Milky Way, it cannot account
for the complexity of the brain. The liver probably contains 100 million
cells, but 1,000 livers do not add up to a rich inner life.
- Ruth Fischback and Gerald Fischbach (from Hard Science, Hard
Choices by Sandra J. Ackerman, New York: Dana Press, 2006)
- When we deal with brain science, we are dealing with the organ that
makes us unique individuals, that gives us our personality, memories,
emotions, dreams, creative abilities, and at times our sinister
- Edward B. Foote (from Medical Common Sense, 1866)
- The brain is the great receiving and distributing reservoir of vital
electricity, just as the heart is the receiving and distributing reservoir
of the blood.
- Michael J. Fox, actor (quoted in People magazine, December 7,
1998, p. 135; talking about his surgery for Parkinson's disease)
- They did something once that slurred my speech, and I thought, "Oh,
man, you're messing with my brain. It's freaking me out."
- Benjamin Franklin (from Poor Richard, 1758)
- A full belly makes a dull brain.
- Morgan Freeman, actor (from The Associated Press, May 8,
- If you're going to play a brain surgeon, you just have to
learn how to say the words. You don't have to go and learn how to cut open
somebody's scalp. I think acting is acting. Being is something
- French Proverb
- A brain is worth little without a tongue.
- Sigmund Freud (from The Interpretation of Dreams (3rd edition),
translated by A. A. Brill, 1911)
- The dream acts as a safety-valve for the over-burdened brain.
- Robert Frost
- The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get
up and does not stop until you get into the office.
- Wm. Fuller (from Architecture of the Brain, 1896)
- When a general knowledge of the structure of the brain is acquired by
the student a useful and practical step is gained, because he will not
only be able to describe the situation of a lesion and understand the
descriptions made by others, but he will be in a situation to
intelligently discuss the functions of its parts, and is prepared to work
in the field of discovery.
- Franz Joseph Gall (quoted in Minds Behind the
Brain. A History of the Pioneers and Their Discoveries by S. Finger,
- The object of my researches is the brain. The cranium is only a
faithful cast of the external surface of the brain, and is consequently
but a minor part of the principal object.
- Franz Josef Gall (from On the Functions of the Brain and Each of
its Parts, 1835
- Now I have demonstrated, that the convolutions of the brain are
nothing but the peripheric expansion of the bundles of which it is
composed; consequently the convolutions of the brain must be recognized as
the parts in which the instincts, sentiments, propensities are exercised;
and, in general the moral and intellectual forces.
- Howard Gardner (from Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple
- To ask "Where in your brain is intelligence?" is like asking "Where is
the voice in the radio?"
- Michael S. Gazzaniga (from The Bisected Brain, 1970)
- While there have been great technological advances in the study of the
brain, yielding enormous amounts of data on its physical and psychological
characteristics, the old problem of relating mind to brain in a reasonable
fashion remains unaccomplished.
- Michael S. Gazzaniga (from The Mind's Past, 1998)
- The human brain is generally regarded as a complex web of adaptations
built into the nervous system, even though no one knows how.
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman (from The Home, 1903)
- The softest, freest, most pliable and changeful living substance is
the brain--the hardest and most iron-bound as well.
- Kenneth Grahame ("Toad" in The Wind in the Willow)
- Brain against brute force - and brain came out on the top - as its
bound to do.
- Greek Proverb
- Better brains in the head than riches and confusion.
- Richard L. Gregory (from Eye and Brain: The Psychology of
- One of the difficulties in understanding the brain is that it is like
nothing so much as a lump of porridge.
- Tim Green, Stephen F. Heinemann and Jim F. Gusella (from a paper in
Neuron, vol. 420, page 427, 1998)
- The human brain is estimated to have about a hundred billion nerve
cells, two million miles of axons, and a million billion synapses, making
it the most complex structure, natural or artificial, on earth.
- Susan Greenfield (from How Might the Brain Generate Consciousness, in
From Brains to Consciousness? Essays on the New Sciences of the
Mind, edited by S. Rose, Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998)
- The most obvious feature of the brain is that it is not homogeneous,
but composed of different regions. There are no intrinsic moving parts,
no obvious way of knowing where to start to understand what is actually
happening, or what functions are taking place.
- Susan Greenfield (from The Private Life of the Brain,
- The question of how the ebb and flow of a highly developed mind can be
catered to by a physical brain, and the related question of how the one
impacts the other, are the hardest-ever challenges to human ingenuity and
- Hanson (from the song, Man From Milwaukee)
- He says where he's from is called Albertane.
There they use more than 10% of the brain.
- J. Allan Hobson (from The Dream Drugstore. Chemically Altered
States of Consciousness, 2001)
- In New England, farmers say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a
minute!" Meaning, of course, that New England weather is constantly
changing. This is like the brain and its mind.
- Pinckney J. Harman (from James Arthur Lecture on the Evolution of
the Human Brain, 1956)
- It is not unreasonable to expect that man's brain will continue to
study itself so long as Homo sapiens shall last.
- Sydney J. Harris
- Knowledge fills a large brain; it merely inflates a small one.
- Erich Harth (from Windows on the Mind, 1982)
- The brain presents two seemingly irreconcilable aspects: It is a
material body, exhibiting all the physical properties of matter, and it
possesses a set of faculties and attributes, collectively called mind,
that are not found in any other physical system.
- Joel Havemann (from A Life Shaken, 2002)
What seems astonishing is that a mere three-pound object, made of
the same atoms that constitute everything else under the sun, is capable
of directing virtually everything that humans have done: flying to the
moon and hitting seventy home runs, writing Hamlet and building
the Taj Mahal -- even unlocking the secrets of the brain itself.
- Jimi Hendrix (from song, Purple Haze, 1967)
- Purple haze was in my brain,
Lately things don't seem the same,
Actin' funny, but I don't know why,
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
- Hippocrates (about 400 B.C.)
- Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise
our pleasures, joy, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows,
pains, griefs, and tears.
- Hippocrates (about 400 B.C.)
- ...all the most acute, most powerful, and most deadly diseases, and
those which are most difficult to be understood by the inexperienced,
fall upon the brain.
- Hippocrates (about 400 B.C.; quoted in Minds
Behind the Brain. A History of the Pioneers and Their Discoveries by
S. Finger, 2000)
- Wherefore the heart and the diaphragm are particularly sensitive, they
have nothing to do, however, with the operations of the understanding, but
of all these the brain is the cause.
- Benjamin L. Hooks (from African American Wisdom)
- The most enduring contributions made to civilization have not been
made by brawn, they have been made by brain.
- Robert Green Ingersoll (from Liberty)
- I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample under foot. Men
are not superior by reason of the accidents of race or color. They are
superior who have the best heart - the best brain.
- James I of England, James VI of Scotland (from A Counter-blaste to
- A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the
brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof
nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is
- Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi (from The Three-Pound Universe,
- The brain is a little saline pool that acts as a conductor, and it
runs on electricity.
- David Hubel (from Scientific American, September 1979, p.
brain is a tissue. It is a complicated, intricately woven tissue, like
nothing else we know of in the universe, but it is composed of cells, as
any tissue is. They are, to be sure, highly specialized cells, but they
function according to the laws that govern any other cells. Their
electrical and chemical signals can be detected, recorded and
interpreted and their chemicals can be identified; the connections that
constitute the brain's woven feltwork can be mapped. In short, the
brain can be studied, just as the kidney can.
- David Hubel (from Scientific American, September 1979, p.
- Can the brain understand the brain? Can it understand the mind? Is
it a giant computer, or some other kind of giant machine, or something
- Italian Proverbs
- Everyone thinks he has more than his share of brain.
Every one gives himself credit for more brains than he has, and less
All the brains are not in one head.
Half a brain is enough for him who says little.
- William James (from The Principles of Psychology, 1890)
- As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses
melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one
protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream.
- E. Roy John (from Mechanisms of Memory, 1967)
- The brain is a marvelous mechanism. Our feelings of love and hate, of
good and evil, our appreciation of ugliness and beauty n the world around
us, the values toward which we aspire, the injustices which we strive to
correct - all these mental riches which form the most treasured part of
life for us are somehow generated by the interaction of present
experiences with the residue of our past stored in the brain.
- George Johnson (from In the Palaces of Memory. How We Build the
Worlds Inside Our Heads, 1991)
- Whenever you read a book or have a conversation, the experience causes
physical changes in your brain.
- It's a little frightening to think that every time you walk away from
an encounter, your brain has been altered, sometimes permanently.
- Barbara Jordan
- Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain
- Carl Gustav Jung
- A collection of a hundred great brains makes one big fathead.
- Eric R. Kandel (from "The new science of mind" in Best of the Brain
from Scientific American, New York: Dana Press, 2007)
- The brain is a complex biological organ of great computational
capability that constructs our sensory experiences, regulates our thoughts
and emotions, and control our actions.
- Eric R. Kandel (from The Disorderd Mind. What Unusual Brains
Tell Us About Ourselves, 2018)
- The greatest challenge in all of
science is to understand how the mysteries of human nature - as
reflected in our individual experience of the world - arise from the
physical matter of the brain.
- Julian Paul Keenan (from The Face in the Mirror, 2003)
- When considering the abilities and complexities of the brain, one is
struck by the incredible efficiency and splendor expressed in gray and
- Helen Keller (from The Story of My Life, pt. 3,
- Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same
effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.
- Seymour S. Kety (from Scientific American, September 1979, p.
- In a structure as complex as the human brain a multitude of things can
go wrong. The wonder is that for most people the brain functions
effectively and unceasingly for more than 60 years.
- Konrad Kording (from Nature, July 17, 2013)
- The human brain produces in 30 seconds as much data as the Hubble
Space Telescope has produced in its lifetime.
- Wendell J.S. Krieg (from Functional Neuroanatomy, 1942)
- The brain evolves further than any other organ. Beginning as the
simplest sort of connecting center for the nerves, it elaborates into a
surpassingly complex structure, with many levels of activity, and untold
trillions of possible circuits.
- Dalai Lama
- This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need
for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple;
the philosophy is kindness.
- Gary Larson (Some dinosaurs talking in "The Far Side")
- The picture's pretty bleak, gentlemen... The world's climates
are changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have a brain about
the size of a walnut.
- The La's (from the song There She Goes, originally released in
- There she goes
There she goes again
Racing through my brain
And I just can't contain
This feeling that remains
- Primo Levi
- To accuse another of having weak kidneys, lungs, or heart, is not a
crime; on the contrary, saying he has a weak brain is a crime.
- Jerry Lee Lewis (from the song Great Balls of Fire)
- You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain.
- Rodolfo Llinas (in an interview with PBS)
- Basically there are two types of animals: animals, and animals that
have no brains; they are called plants. They don't need a nervous system
because they don't move actively, they don't pull up their roots and run
in a forest fire! Anything that moves actively requires a nervous system;
otherwise it would come to a quick death.
- Shelley Long (from a line in the television show Cheers)
- If brains were money, you'd need to take out a loan to buy a cup of
- J.R. Lowell (from A Fable for Critics, 1848?)
- Most brains reflect but the crown of a hat.
- Gay Gaer Luce and Julius Segal (from Sleep, 1966)
- Whatever any man does he first must do in his mind, whose machinery is
the brain. The mind can do only what the brain is equipped to do, and so
man must find out what kind of brain he has before he can understand his
- Paul D. MacLean
- An interest in the brain requires no justification other than a
curiosity to know why we are here, what we are doing here, and where we
- Thomas L. Masson
- No brain is stronger than its weakest think.
- H. Maudsley (from The Double Brain, 1889)
- Is the brain, which is notably double in structure, a double organ,
'seeming parted, but yet a union in partition'?
- W. Somerset Maugham
- The highest activities of consciousness have their origins in
physical occurrences of the brain, just as the loveliest melodies are
not too sublime to be expressed by notes.
- Member of Britain's House of Lords (quoted in Newsweek
September 11, 1999, p. 8)
- The whole thing is ludicrous. What do I include? My shoe size,
number of brain cells?
- Dr. Leonard H. McCoy ("Bones") (from Star Trek TV series, The
- Blast medicine anyway! We've learned to tie into every organ in the
human body but one. The brain! The brain is what life is all
- John McCrone (from The Ape That Spoke. Language and the Evolution
of the Human Mind, 1991)
- The brain is designed to grab what input it can and then boil it up
into a froth of understanding.
- Malcolm McDowell (from Mail on Sunday, 2000)
- Let's not get too precious about it: actors are not heart surgeons or
brain surgeons. We are just entertaining people.
- Colin McGinn (from The Mysterious Flame. Conscious Minds in a
Material World, 1999)
- Brains cause technology, society, art, science, soap operas, sin. A
remarkable set of effects for such a small chunk of coagulated
- Robert S. McNamara (former U.S. Secretary of Defense)
- Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.
- Michelangelo (1546, quoted in Art in Renaissance Italy, by John
T. Paoletti, Gary M. Radke, 2005)
- A man paints with his brains and not with his hands, and if he cannot
have his brains clear he will come to grief.
- A.A. Milne (from The World of Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh
- I have been Foolish and Deluded, and I am a Bear of No Brain at
- Marvin L. Minsky (from Society of the Mind, 1986)
- Minds are simply what brains do.
- Marvin L. Minsky (from Society of the Mind, 1986)
- The principal activities of brains are making changes in
- Lin-Manuel Miranda (from Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton, 2015)
- Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain
And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain.
- Alexander Monro II (1733-1817, from Observations of the Structure
and Functions of the Nervous System, Ch. 1)
- For, as the substance of the brain, like that of the other solids of
our body, is nearly incompressible, the quantity of blood within the head
must be the same, or very nearly the same, at all times, whether in health
or disease, in life or after death.
- Ashley Montagu (quoted in Brian, D., Genius Talk.
Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries, New
York: Plenum Press, 1995)
- You certainly can't tell anything from the microscopic
structure of the brain whether the person was an idiot or a
- Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
- It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.
- Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne in the movie The Matrix,
- What is real. How do you define real? If you're talking about what you
can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is
simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
- Van Morrison
- If my heart could do my thinking,
would my brain begin to feel?
- Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961)
- A strange thing is
memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of
today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain,
memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the
- Vernon B. Mountcastle (from Johns Hopkins Medical Journal, vol.
136, page 131, 1975)
- Each of us lives within the universe - the prison - of his own brain.
Projecting from it are millions of fragile sensory nerve fibers, in groups
uniquely adapted to sample the energetic states of the world around us:
heat, light, force, and chemical composition. That is all we ever know
of it directly; all else is logical inference.
- Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani President (quoted in Newsweek
Magazine, February 4, 2008)
- We have our own brains.
- Martin G. Netsky (from What is a brain, and who said so?, Brit.
Med. J., 293:1679-1672, 1986)
- Use of dictionaries allows us to be
certain only that the brain is something in the appendage rostral to
- Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
- Pictures, propagated by motion along the fibers of the optic
nerves in the brain, are the cause of vision.
- Louis Nizer
- A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his
hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and
his brain and his heart is an artist.
- Charles R. Noback (from James Arthur Lecture on the Evolution of
the Human Brain, 1959)
- The human brain is the product of a long phylogenetic history. The
past resides in the fabric of its structural and functional
- Norwegian Proverb
- Ask for advice, and then use your brain.
- Joyce Carol Oats (from The Grave Dwellers in Love and Its
- The brain is a muscle/
of busy hills, the struggle/
of unthought things with things/
- James Oberg (quoted by Steven L. Shafer in Anesthesia &
Analgesia, 104:247-248, 2007)
- You must keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains
- Julien Offory de La Mettrie (1709-1751; from L'Homme
- The brain has muscles for thinking as the legs have muscles for
- Oingo Boingo (from the song Grey Matter)
- They say you lost the ability to even think
That your tiny little brain
Slipped down the kitchen sink.
- William Osler (from Aequanimitas, With Other Addresses to Medical
Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine, 1906)
- There are only two sorts of doctors; those who practise with their
brains, and those who practise with their tongues.
- Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936; in a lecture given in 1913 and
published in Lectures on conditioned reflexes. Twenty-five year of
objective study of the higher nervous activity [behavior] of animals,
London: Martin Lawrence, 1928, p. 222.)
- If we could look through the skull into the brain of a consciously
thinking person, and if the place of optimal excitability were luminous,
then we should see playing over the cerebral surface, a bright spot with
fantastic, waving borders constantly fluctuating in size and form,
surrounded by a darkness more or less deep, covering the rest of the
- Wilder Penfield (from The Great Issues of Conscience in Modern
- It is fair to say that science provides no method of controlling the
mind. Scientific work on the brain does not explain the mind-not
- Wilder Penfield (from The Second Career, 1963)
- The brain is the organ of destiny. It holds within its humming
mechanism secrets that will determine the future of the human
- Wilder Penfield (from Reader's Digest, 1958)
- Among the millions of nerve cells that clothe parts of
the brain there runs a thread. It is the thread of time, the
thread that has run through each succeeding wakeful hour of the
- Wilder Penfield and Lamar Roberts (from Speech and
Brain Mechanisms, 1959)
- My plea to educators and parents is that they should give some thought
to the nature of the brain of a child, for the brain is a living
mechanism, not a machine. In case of breakdown, it can substitute one of
its parts for the function of another. But it has its limitations. It is
subject to inexorable change with the passage of time.
- Wilder Penfield (The Mystery of the Mind, Princeton (NJ):
Princeton University Press, 1975)
- Mind, brain, and body make the man, and the man is capable of so much!
- Roger Penrose
- It may well be there is something else going on in the brain that we
don't have an inkling of at the moment.
- Carl C. Pfeiffer (from Mental and Elemental Nutrients,
- Brains, like cabbages, are beautiful--but in a different way. Cabbage
heads are dumb and sterile, whereas brains are personal, intelligent and
- Pablo Picasso (from Saturday Review, September 1, 1956)
- If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.
- R.V. Pierce (from The People's Common Sense Medical Advisor in
Plain English, 1917)
- The brain is not, like the liver, heart and other internal organs,
capable from the moment of birth of all the functions which it ever
discharges; for while in common with them, it has certain duties for the
exercise of which it is especially intended, its high character in man,
as the organ of conscious life, the supreme instrument of his
relations with the rest of nature, is developed only by a long and
- Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.)
- The brain is the highest of the organs in position, and it is
protected by the vault of the head; it has no flesh or blood or refuse.
It is the citadel of sense-perception.
- Polish Proverb
- He who climbs a ladder, must have his brains in his feet.
- J. Lawrence Pool (from Nature's Masterpiece. The Brain and How It
Works, New York: Walker and Company, 1987)
- The magic of your mind -- the magic that lets you enjoy family and
friends, fun and games, and do all the things you "have a mind" to do --
depends on your private computer: your brain.
- Mary Pettibone Poole (from A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938)
- To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it,
- Michael I. Posner and Marcus E. Raichle (from Images of Mind,
- The microscope and telescope opened up unexpectedly vast domains of
scientific discovery. A similar opportunity has now been created in the
study of human cognition by the introduction of methods to visualize the
brain systems involved as we think.
- Emerson M. Pugh (as quoted by George E. Pugh, Emerson's son in G.E.
Pugh, The Biological Origin of Human Values, 1977, p. 154)
- If the human brain were so simple
That we could understand it,
We would be so simple
That we couldn't.
- Pasko T. Rakic (from Great Issues for Medicine in the
Twenty-First Century, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sciences, vol. 882, p. 66,
- The brain is the organ that sets us apart from any other species. It
is not the strength of our muscles or of our bones that makes us
different, it is our brain.
- V.S. Ramachandran (from A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness. From
Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers, 2004)
- Even though it is common knowledge, it never ceases to amaze me that
all the richness of our mental life - all our feelings, our emotions, our
thoughts, our ambitions, our love lives, our religious sentiments and even
what each of us regards as his or her own intimate private self - is
simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in our heads, in our
brains. There is nothing else.
- V.S. Ramachandran (from an interview in Edge.org)
- The brain is a 1.5 kilogram mass of jelly, the consistency of tofu, you
can hold it in the palm of your hand, yet it can contemplate the vastness
of space and time, the meaning of infinity and the meaning of
- Jules Renard (1864-1910)
- Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain
- Richard M. Restak (from The Brain. The Last Frontier,
- Since the brain is unlike any other structure in the known universe,
it seems reasonable to expect that our understanding of its functioning -
if it can ever be achieved - will require approaches that are drastically
different from the way we understand other physical systems.
- Richard Restak (from The Brain Has A Mind of Its Own, 1991)
- But if the brain is not like a computer, then what is it like? What
kind of model can we form in regard to its functioning? I believe there's
only one answer to that question, and perhaps it will disturb you:
there is no model of the brain, nor will there ever be. That's
because the brain, as the constructor of all models, transcends all
models. The brain's uniqueness stems from the fact that nowhere in the
known universe is there anything even remotely resembling it.
- Theodore Roosevelt insulting a New York Supreme Court Justice (from
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, 1979)
- ..an amiable old fuzzy-wuzzy with sweetbread brains.
- W. Richie Russell (from Brain Memory Learning: A Neurologist's
- There is no clear evidence on which we can separate the mind from the
brain; they appear to develop together and to disintegrate
- W. Richie Russell (from Explaining the Brain, London: Oxford
University Press, 1975)
- Correct care and use of your brain is the key to a stimulating
existence and ultimate contentment. Look after your brain.
- Russian Proverb
- Long whiskers cannot take the place of brains.
- Tom Robbins (from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, 1976)
- If little else, the brain is an educational toy.
- Steven Rose (from The Conscious Brain, 1973)
- The brain is biology's greatest challenge. Perhaps in a sense it is
the greatest challenge for science as a whole, beyond moon landings, the
ultimate particles of the physicist and the depths of astronomical
- Steven Rose (from The Future of the Brain. The Promise and Perils
of Tomorrow's Neuroscience, 2005)
- With its hundred billion nerve cells, with their hundred trillion
interconnections, the human brain is the most complex phenomenon in the
known universe - always, of course, excepting the interaction of some six
billion such brains and their owners within the socio-technological
culture of our planetary ecosystem!"
- Carl Sagan (from Broca's Brain, 1979)
- We are an intelligent species and the use of our intelligence quite
properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a
muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a
kind of ecstasy.
- Carl Sagan (from The Demon-haunted World, 1997)
- But I try not to think with my gut. If I'm serious about
understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain,
as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.
- Carl Sagan (from The Dragons of Eden, 1977)
- My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings - what we
sometimes call "mind" - are a consequence of its anatomy and physiology,
and nothing more.
- Robert M. Sapolsky (from "Your Personal Pathology" in Scientific
American Mind, Vol. 14, no. 1, 2004)
- Perhaps most excitingly, we are uncovering the brain basis of our
behaviors -- normal, abnormal and in-between. We are mapping a
neurobiology of what makes us us.
- Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley (from The Mind and the
- The brain, to be sure, is indeed the physical embodiment of the mind,
the organ through which the mind finds expression and through which it
acts in the world.
- David Seegal (from J. Pediatrics, 39:321, 1964)
- Progress in medical science depends chiefly on the uncommon man,
possessed of that rare asset, a brain so beautifully integrated with the
retina, that when he looks, he perceives.
- Jerry Seinfeld (from Seinfeld TV show, last episode,
- Maybe if we lie down our brains will work.
- Jerry Seinfeld (from Jerry Seinfeld, Is This Anything, New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2020.)
- Adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin. The drugstore of the brain does not
ask if you have a prescription.
- Richard Selzer (from Mortal Lessons, 1981)
- The surgeon knows all the parts of the brain but he does not know his
- William Shakespeare (from Hamlet)
- Within the book and volume of thy brain...
- William Shakespeare (from Macbeth)
- Memory, the warder of the brain.
- William Shakespeare (from Macbeth, act 5, scene 3)
- Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
- William Shakespeare (from Hamlet, Act 111, Sc. 2)
- Sleep rock thy brain.
- William Shakespeare (from Othello)
- I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.
- William Shakespeare (from Romeo and Juliet)
- True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.
- William Shakespeare (from King Henry VI, part II Act
III, scene I)
- My brain more busy than the labouring spider
Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies.
- Gordon M. Shepherd (from The Synaptic Organization of the
Brain, 2nd ed., 1979)
- The brain seems to be made up of a bewildering complexity of parts,
and the cells within the parts seem to be characterized by an inscrutable
complexity of form, extent, and relationships with each other.
- Cybill Shepherd (as Maddie in the TV show Moonlighting,
- You have the morals of rabbit, the character of a slug, and the brain
of a platypus.
- Sir Charles Sherrington (from Man on his Nature, 1940)
- If it is mind that we are searching the brain, then we are supposing
the brain to be much more than a telephone-exchange. We are supposing it
to be a telephone-exchange along with subscribers as well.
- Sir Charles Sherrington
- Swiftly the brain becomes an enchanted loom, where millions of
flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern-always a meaningful
pattern-though never an abiding one.
- Sir Charles Sherrington (speaking about Santiago Ramon y Cajal)
- He solved at a stroke the great question of the direction of
nerve-currents in their travel through brain and spinal cord.
- Jack P. Shonkoff and Deborah A. Phillips (editors of From Neurons
to Neighborhoods. The Science of Early Childhood Development,
- The brain is the ultimate organ of adaptation. It takes in
information and orchestrates complex behavioral repertoires that allow
human beings to act in sometimes marvelous, sometimes terrible
- John Shore (from The Sachertorte Algorithm and Other Antidotes to
Computer Anxiety, 1985)
- Your brain receives, stores, and processes information, dispenses
and controls your biological equipment. When properly programmed,
computers can do likewise, except that they control electromechanical
rather than biological equipment. Beyond these functional similarities,
computers and brains have virtually nothing in common.
- Daniel J. Siegel (from The Developing Mind, 1999)
- The number of possible "on-off" patterns of neuronal firing is
immense, estimated as a staggering ten times ten one million times (ten to
the millionth power). The brain is obviously capable of an imponderably
huge variety of activity; the fact that it is often organized and
functional is quite an accomplishment!
- Anthony Smith (from The Mind, 1984)
- The brain of modern man, whatever its origins, is better than it need
be, and rarely tapped for its true potential.
- Anthony Smith (from The Mind, 1984)
- Liver, spleen, heart and guts are all intriguing, but cannot
hold a candle to the brain. It is the most important thing on
earth, for good or ill.
- Samuel Solly (from The Human Brain: Its Structure, Physiology and
- Every day shows us that consciousness and volition may be disturbed by the
slightest accident to the head and that disease seldom invades the brain
without dethroning the mental powers.
- Gerd Sommerhoff (from Logic of the Living Brain, 1974)
- The peculiar fascination of the brain lies in the fact that there is
probably no other object of scientific enquiry about which we know at once
so much and yet understand so little.
- Emanuel Swedenborg (fromThe Brain. Considered Anatomically,
Physiologically and Philosophically, 1887)
- Wherefore the brain must be looked
upon as the universal and general sensory and at the same time as the
universal and general motory organ of
the body and finally as the universal and general laboratory of the animal
spirits and the blood or of the essential juices of life.
- John Philip Souza (1854-1932)
- Jazz will endure, just as long as people hear it through their feet
instead of their brains.
- Spanish Proverbs
- He who at thirty has no brains, will never purchase an estate.
He who has to deal with a blockhead has need of much brains.
- Herbert Spencer (from Principles of Ethics, 1898)
- Mental power cannot be got from ill-fed brains.
- Roger W. Sperry (from James Arthur Lecture on the Evolution of the
Human Brain, 1964, page 2)
- Before brains there was no color or sound in the universe, nor was
there any flavor or aroma and probably little sense and no feeling or
- Roger W. Sperry (from James Arthur Lecture on the Evolution of the
Human Brain, 1964, page 3)
- There probably is no more important quest in all science than the
attempt to understand those very particular events in evolution by which
brains worked out that special trick that has enabled them to add to the
cosmic scheme of things: color, sound, pain, pleasure, and all the other
facets of mental experience.
- Roger W. Sperry (quoted in Brian, D., Genius Talk.
Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries, New
York: Plenum Press, 1995)
- The centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness
is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so
far beyond our comprehension that no one I know of has been able
to imagine their nature.
- Mr. Spock (from Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain")
- The knowledge to reconnect a brain does not exist yet in the
- Nicolaus Steno (quoted in Minds Behind the Brain.
A History of the Pioneers and Their Discoveries by S. Finger,
- We need only view a Dissection of that large Mass, the Brain, to have
ground to bewail our Ignorance...We admire...the Fibres of every Muscle,
and ought still more to admire their disposition in the Brain, where an
infinite number of them contained in a very small Space, do each execute
their particular Offices without confusion or disorder.
- Niels Stensen (Danish anatomist, from a lecture in 1664 as quoted by
H. Brody in The Aging Brain, edited by H.K. Ulatowska, 1985)
- There are those among us who would have us say that the mysteries of
the brain are completely solved and little needs to be added to its
knowledge. It is as if these fortunate persons had been present when this
magnificent organ was created.
- Jonathan Swift (from dedication to A Tale of a Tub, 1704)
- Books, the children of the brain.
- Taylor Swift (from the song Shake It Off, 2014)
- I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
- Research is four things: brains with which to think, eyes with which
to see, machines with which to measure and, fourth, money.
- Daniel Tammet (from Embracing the Wide Sky, 2009)
- Moment by moment throughout our lifetime, our brains hum with the work
of making meaning: weaving together many thousands of threads of
information into all manner of thoughts, feelings, memories, and
- Ian Tattersall (from Becoming Human. Evolution and Human
- Behavior is ultimately the product of the brain, the most mysterious
organ of them all.
- Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892; from In Memoriam. v.
- But for the unquiet heart and brain
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise
Like dull narcotics numbing pain.
- Lewis Thomas (from The Lives of a Cell, 1974)
- The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth,
open to everything, sending out messages to everything. To be sure, it is
hidden away in bone and conducts internal affairs in secrecy, but
virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has
already occurred in other minds.
- Frederick Tilney (from The Brain from Ape to Man, 1928)
- The brain is conceded to be the master organ of the body, the
regulator of life, the source of human progress.
- James Trefil (from Are We Unique?, 1997)
- Your brain never stops developing and changing. It's been
doing it from the time your were an embryo, and will keep on doing it all
your life. And this ability, perhaps, represents it greatest
- Alan Turing (from A.P. Hodges, Alan Turing: the Enigma,
- We are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency
of cold porridge.
- Shania Twain (from Honey, I'm Home)
- This job's a pain-it's so mundane
It sure don't stimulate my brain.
- Douglas Tweed (from Microcosms of the Brain. What Sensorimotor
Systems Reveal about the Mind, 2003)
- Present-day knowledge of the brain resembles in some ways earlier
Europeans' knowledge of Africa. Explorers have mapped the coastline in
detail, but the interior is mostly uncharted.
- C.H. Vanderwolf (from The Evolving Brain. The Mind and the Neural
Control of Behavior, 2007)
- The conventional theory of the brain as the organ of the psyche or
mind offers us the comforting illusion that we already understand the big
- Karl Vogt
- The brain secretes thought as the stomach secretes gastric juice, the
liver bile, and the kidneys urine.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
- I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution
so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival.
- W. Grey Walter (from The Living Brain, 1953)
- By brain is meant, in the first instance, something more than the
pink-grey jelly of the anatomist. It is, even to a scientist, the organ
- James D. Watson (from Discovering the Brain, National Academy
- The brain is the last and grandest biological frontier, the most
complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe. It contains
hundreds of billions of cells interlinked through trillions of
connections. The brain boggles the mind.
- Arthur Weasley (a character from the book, Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling, 1999)
- Never trust
anything that can think for itself, if you can't see where it keeps its
- Barrett Wilbert Weed and Ryan McCartan (from Freeze Your Brain
in Heathers. The Musical, 2010)
- Freeze your brain.
Suck on that straw.
Get lost in the pain.
- Victor Frederick Weisskopf (from Knowledge and Wonder,
- In man's brain the impressions from outside are not merely registered;
they produce concepts and ideas. They are the imprint of the external
world upon the human brain.
- Weezer (from the song Island in the Sun, 2001)
- On an island in the sun
We'll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can't control my brain
- Torsten Wiesel (quoted in Brian, D., Genius Talk.
Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries, New
York: Plenum Press, 1995)
- The eye and brain are not like a fax machine, nor are there little
people looking at the images coming in.
- Oscar Wilde (from De Profundis, 1905)
- It is in the brain that the poppy is red, that the apple is odorous,
that the skylark sings.
- Thomas Willis (The Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves, 1664)
explicate the uses of the Brain seems as difficult a task as to paint the
Soul, of which it is commonly said, that it understands all things but
- Woodrow Wilson
- I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can
- The White Stripes (from the album White Blood Cells, 2001)
- these two sides of my brain
need to have a meeting
cant think of anything to do
my left brain knows that
all love is fleeting
- Walt Whitman (from the preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855)
- All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain.
- Edward O. Wilson (from Consilience, 1998)
- Overall, the human brain is the most complex object known in the
universe -- known, that is, to itself.
- The Wizard of Oz to the Scarecrow (from the script of the film, The
Wizard of Oz, MGM Studios, 1939)
- Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity.
Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth -- or slinks
through slimy seas has a brain!
- Virginia Woolf (1924, in Leonard Woolf, ed., A Writer's
- I like going from one lighted room to another, such is my brain to me;
- Virginia Woolf
- My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery - always
buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving, and then buried in mud. And
why? What's this passion for?
- Steven Wright
- My girlfriend and I went on a picnic. I don't know how she did it, but
she got poison ivy on the brain. When it itched, the only way she could
scratch it was to think about sandpaper.
- Fang-Cheng Yeh et al. (from Yeh FC, Vettel JM, Singh A, et al.
Quantifying Differences and Similarities in Whole-Brain White Matter
Architecture Using Local Connectome Fingerprints. PLoS Comput Biol.
- The specific brain characteristics that define an individual are
encoded by the unique pattern of connections between the billions of
neurons in the brain
- Yiddish Proverbs
- Borrowed brains have no value.
When brains are needed, brawn won't help.
Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains.
- J.Z. Young (from Philosophy and the Brain, 1987)
- In order to understand what is meant by the word 'brain' as it is used
by neuroscientists, we must bear in mind the evidence that this organ
contains in some recorded form the basis of one's whole conscious life. It
contains the record of all our aims and ambitions and is essential for the
experience of all pleasures and pains, all loves and hates.
- J.Z. Young (from Doubt and Certainty in Science. A Biologist's
Reflections on the Brain, 1960)
- The principles now being discovered at work in the brain may
provide, in the future, machines even more powerful than those we
can at present foresee.
- Adam Zeman (from A Portrait of the Brain, New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2008)
- Surely, the brain must hold the key to human nature: understanding it
will allow us to make sense of so much that puzzles us about
- Carl Zimmer (from Soul Made Flesh. The Discovery of the Brain --
and How it Changed the World, New York: Free Press, 2004)
- Today, when we look at a brain, we see an intricate network of
billions of neurons in constant, crackling communication, a chemical
labyrinth that senses the world outside and within, produces love and
sorrow, keeps our hearts beating and lungs breathing, composes our
thoughts, and constructs our consciousness.