‘From humours to cells’ explores historical perspectives on the brain. The Greeks were the first to see that the brain was central to thought. Hippocrates postulated that there were four humours. Later, the Roman thinker Galen said that thought came about through fluid movement in ventricles. Galenic thought dominated the understanding of the brain for centuries, until Galvani and Volta discovered the importance of electricity in brain function, rather than fluid. It was not until Cajal and Golgi successfully determined the structure of individual neurons that the neuronal doctrine became accepted. Phrenology was rightly dismissed as pseudoscience, but the importance of specific brain regions is only now being understood.