Bock's contribution to the first descriptions of interganglionic circuitries

L.A.H. Hogenhuis1 and 2A.M. Luyendijk-Elshout
1Maastricht, and 2University of Leiden, The Netherlands

The anatomical relationships of the trigeminal nerve in man, especially in the medial and posterior cranial fossae, were extensively studied from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century by German, Austrian, Italian and Polish anatomists such as Paletta 1748-1832; Meckel 1724-1774; Hirsch 1765; Wrisberg 1777; Procháska 1749-1820; von Sömmerring (1755-1830) 1778, 1796, 1800; Hildebrand 1803; Niemeyer 1812. August Carl Bock (1782-1833), who published his Beschreibung der fünften Nervenpaares und seiner Verbindungen mit anderen Nerven, vorzüglich mit dem Gangliensysteme (Description of the fifth nerve pair and its connections with other nerves, with special reference to the ganglionic system) in Leipzig it 1817, was largely guided by previous neuroanatomical work by Johann Friedrich Meckel (1724-1774), summarized in his Tractus anatomicophysiologicus de quinto pare nervorum cerebri. Bock's little-known work is important for the early contribution it made to the conceptualization of the neural circuit --now generally accepted on the basis of neuroanatomical evidence. In particular, Bock demonstrated the connections between the sympathetic nerves and the autonomic ganglia related to the eye, differing on this point from Meckel who was at that time regarded as the authority on the neuroanatomy of the fifth cranial nerve. Of further interest are the originality of the technique used, the elegant presentation of the results and the original choice of the dissection model of the trigeminal block for the teaching of neuroanatomy in the early nineteenth century.


Session II
Friday, 20 June 1997, 11.05 - 11.25

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands