Andres Lozano – TED Talk TRANSCRIPT
One of the things I want to establish right from the start is that not all neurosurgeons wear cowboy boots. I just wanted you to know that.
So I am indeed a neurosurgeon, and I follow a long tradition of neurosurgery, and what I’m going to tell you about today is adjusting the dials in the circuits in the brain, being able to go anywhere in the brain and turning areas of the brain up or down to help our patients.
So as I said, neurosurgery comes from a long tradition. It’s been around for about 7,000 years. In Mesoamerica, there used to be neurosurgery, and there were these neurosurgeons that used to treat patients. And they were trying to — they knew that the brain was involved in neurological and psychiatric disease. They didn’t know exactly what they were doing.
Not much has changed, by the way. But they thought that, if you had a neurologic or psychiatric disease, it must be because you are possessed by an evil spirit. So if you are possessed by an evil spirit causing neurologic or psychiatric problems, then the way to treat this is, of course, to make a hole in your skull and let the evil spirit escape.
So this was the thinking back then, and these individuals made these holes. Sometimes the patients were a little bit reluctant to go through this because, you can tell that the holes are made partially and then, I think, there was some trepanation, and then they left very quickly and it was only a partial hole, and we know they survived these procedures.
But this was common. There were some sites where one percent of all the skulls have these holes, and so you can see that neurologic and psychiatric disease is quite common, and it was also quite common about 7,000 years ago.
Now, in the course of time, we’ve come to realize that different parts of the brain do different things. So there are areas of the brain that are dedicated to controlling your movement or your vision or your memory or your appetite, and so on.