Thursday, September 10, 2015
Joseph Gall, a medical student in Vienna in the early 1800s, noticed that the students who were best at memorization all had bulging eyes and prominent foreheads. He concluded that this must be an indication of where the facility for verbal memory was located in the brain. He called this pseudoscience phrenology. It focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind.
60 miniature heads are a fascinating relic of a short-lived fad. They’re currently housed at the Science Museum in London. One of Gall's proteges commissioned the heads to provide his acolytes with “hands on” 3D samples of specific bumps associated with personality traits, the better to hone their skills.