In the 19th Century, a Viennese physician named Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) argued that an individual’s personality could be interpreted from the shape of his skull. The bumps and depressions in the cranium were thought to represent the shape of the brain below, which itself was determined by the volume of the 27 brain organs whose presumably housed such personality traits as cleverness, pride, wit, and affection.VAN WYHEM, J.(1999) History of Phrenology [Online].

Available from:

[Accessed: 29th February 2016]

Today the Phrenology is considered pseudoscience, despite this fact it was an improvement over that era’s prevailing views of personality, in fact for the first time the brain was considered the “organ of the mind,” although phrenologists lacked the sophisticated tools of modern neuroscience and could only speculate on the details but unfortunately, they got wrong.

However it was actually a beginning, the neuroscientist indeed are using their new tools reconsidering the idea that different personality traits are localized in different brain regions. As HERBERT W. (2010) said “The emerging field of personality neuroscience is producing some intriguing early results”.

The psychologists Colin DeYoung of the University of Minnesota and Jeremy Gray of Yale, are two leaders in this new field, who have been using a brain scanner to search for evidence of the so-called big five personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness/intellect, and conscientiousness; apparently every human personality is a unique mix of just this five core attributes. HERBERT, W. (2010)”We ‘re only human”: The New Phrenology? Association for Psychological Science [Online]

 Available from:

[Accessed: 29th February 2016]

Ruth Talavera Flores


Research Associate & IRIANS’s Representative for

the Iberian Peninsula and Mexico

IRIANS – The Neuroscience Institute

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