The beginnings of functional neuroimaging

Angelo MossoAngelo Mosso was an Italian physiologist, interested in many things but among them, blood flow and blood pressure in humans. He was born in Turin in 1846 to a father who was a carpenter by trade. Showing great promise in school, Mosso was able to attend the University of Turin and study the natural sciences. Always the consummate and prodigious researcher, over the course of his career he published more than 200 articles and books. Mosso’s work helped lay the foundation for many important (and modern) neuroscientific research methods, such as fMRI and the polygraph.

Mosso demonstrated in the late 1800s an increase in brain blood vessel pulsation as people thought about things. He interpreted this to mean that blood flow increased to the brain when people had thoughts. This particular study was one of the first (documented) functional neuroimaging (of sorts) studies. Both fMRI and PET are based on the idea that increased blood flow to the brain is associated with changes in cognition. It’s doubtful that he could have imagined how influential this research would be.

Visit this site for a longer biography of Mosso.

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