Thomas Jefferson’s Brain

I enjoyed this book immensely. I learned about many subjects of which I had no prior knowledge. As a result, I must admit there were some essays that were decidedly challenging to get through, however I always felt I was learning. I particularly enjoyed The Leavings of a Life, An Old Man Ought to be Sad, Contrapuntal Combat, and Inside Jefferson’s Cerebellum.”

As a neurosurgeon, I must disagree with Mr. Morris’ essay Inside Jefferson’s Cerebellum. I think a better title would have been Inside Jefferson’s Cerebrum (NOT CEREBELLUM). This provocative essay talks of the great mind of our 3rd President and its similarities with the Library of Congress, perhaps the greatest library in the history of the world. He asserts: “Brain-like, it [The Library of Congress] silently throbs with knowledge, and invisible connections-fact to fact, thought to thought…”

To set the record straight, the cerebellum is the coordination center of the brain. It helps us snare a line drive baseball, skillfully pour a cup of coffee, and automatically tie our shoelaces. As far as modern science knows, there are no thoughts in the cerebellum. Thoughts exist in the cerebrum, which includes the gray and white matter of our evolutionarily more recent higher functioning brain. More specifically, mentation appears to lie in the cerebral cortex or outermost layer of the brain, the grey matter, which I describe to patients as our “Thinking Cap”. The white matter, which also exists in the cerebrum, is more of a connectivity system-our Verizon network-which links our brain cells to each other, but I digress.

Overall A+, Mr. Morris. Thank you for sharing this amazing book of essays. I hope the above tutorial will enhance your knowledge of brain anatomy.

 

Rated 5 Brain

 

Very Respectfully,
Mark McLaughlin, MD