First Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Buffalo, New York, USA
8 - 9 May 1996

Go to 1996 ISHN Meeting Program

Arnoldus van Rhijn on aphasia: a forgotten thesis

P. Eling
NICI, Department of Psychology, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Arnoldus van Rhijn finished his medical studies at the University of Leiden in 1868 with a dissertation on Aphasia. Apparently nobody was impressed by this paper and it was quickly forgotten. Van Rhijn, however, wrote the first Dutch study on the nature of aphasia, developing an original view on the physiological foundation of language in the brain. He was mainly inspired by the famous aphasia debates of 1865 in Paris. Being more interested in a physiological process description than in the localization issue per se, van Rhijn rejected the views of Bouillaud and Broca and felt more comfortable with the views of Parchappe. Moreover, 6 years before Wernicke, he hypothesized that aphasia may be caused not only by lesions to cortical and subcortical language-related centers, but aphasia may also occur as a consequence of a disconnection of centers. The thesis also contains perhaps the first description of "phonemic approximation" or conduite d'approche (Keller, 1978; Joanette et al, 1980). In this paper I will shortly describe the historical background, the content of the thesis, and a few important issues raised by the thesis.

Keller E. (1978) Parameters for vowel substitutions in Broca's aphasia. Brain and Language, 5, 265-286.

Joanette, Y., Keller, E. and A. Roch Lecours (1980) Sequences of phonemic approximations in aphasia. Brain and Language, 11, 30-44.

Gustave Dax and the early history of cerebral dominance

S. Finger and D. Roe
Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

In 1863, two years before Paul Broca published his heralded paper on the special role of the left hemisphere in speech, Gustave Dax sent a paper to Académie de Médecine in Paris. This lengthy paper included the insightful memoir written by his father Marc in 1836 and some supportive material that Gustave himself had collected. In this presentation, we shall present the events leading up to Gustave's 1863 submission to the Académie and an English translation of the decidedly negative response that this paper received. We shall also examine the shorter paper that Gustave published in 1865, right after his father's important memoir. By presenting this material, we hope to show how Gustave Dax brought his father's previously unknown ideas about speech and the left hemisphere before the public and then attempted to refine them.

A hundred years of the Babinski sign

A.P. Gasecki
Division of Neurology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA

One hundred years ago, on February 22, 1896, Joseph François Félix Babinski published his landmark 28-line report, in French, on the cutaneous plantar reflex which came to be widely known as the Babinski sign. The importance of the sign as a pathognomic indicator of the upper motor neuron disorder was immediately incorporated into practice. A number of modifications followed the discovery, arousing interest among physicians throughout the world. To my knowledge, the original report on the plantar reflex has never been translated and published in English literature. Moreover, the subsequent publication on the detailed explanation of the clinical significance of the Babinski phenomenon also did not reach the non-French-speaking neurologists. For the past hundred years, the sign proved itself as a simple and diagnostic test to all scientists, obviating the need for the original author's translation. The upcoming centenary of the Babinski sign warrants the reassessment of its practical implications and its contributions to modern neurology.

Order from chaos: Olof Larsell (1886-1964) and the evolution of a coherent cerebellar terminology

D.E. Haines
Department of Anatomy, The University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS, USA

By the turn of the century (1895-1909) at least a dozen sets of terms for designating the various parts of the cerebellum had been proposed. These issued from the work of Dejerine, Bradley, Bolk, Edinger and others. While some terms were used by different scholars to specify the same structure, in other cases the same term was used by different investigators to identify totally different structures. For example, Bradley used the designator C2 to identify what we now call the simple lobule while Bolk used the same (C2) symbol to specify the pyramidal lobule. It remained for a quiet, reserved scientist at a small medical school in the state of Oregon to develop a coherent terminology that would be used, literally, world wide. Olof Larsell was born in Sweden, but arrived in the U.S. at age 5. He received the B.A. degree in 1910 from Linfield College and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University in 1914 and 1918, respectively. L.B. Arey, the embryologist, and S.W. Ranson, the neuroanatomist, were members of his doctoral committee. Summer courses in comparative neurology taken at the University of Chicago under Charles Judson Herrick in 1913 and 1914 would profoundly influence Larsell's future research endeavors. Larsell served on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin (1918-1920), at the University of Oregon (1921-1952), and at the University of Minnesota (1952-1954). Larsell began his studies on the cerebellum in 1919 and first published on this topic in 1920. From 1920-1931 Larsell studied the cerebelli of a range of lower forms, such as newts and snakes, looking for basic structural plans. He made original contributions and established the term corpus cerebelli as indicative of the main part of the cerebellum. Between 1932 and 1947 Larsell expanded his studies to include a wide range of avian and mammalian forms. Using developmental stages he showed that the posterolateral was the first fissure to appear and that it divided the cerebellar anlage into a flocculonodular lobe and the corpus cerebelli. The second fissure to appear, the primary fissure, divided the corpus cerebelli into anterior and posterior lobes. Armed with these fundamental observations, Larsell offered his solution in a series of papers published in 1948-1954. He showed that the cerebellum of birds and mammals consisted of 10 subdivisions. These were designated folia I-X in the avian vermis and lobules I-X in the mammalian vermis. In mammals the lateral (hemisphere) extension of a given vermis lobule is designated with the prefix H (III, HIII). Within a few short years Larsell's terminology gained wide acceptance. This presentation explores the life and scientific contributions of Olof Larsell.

Mnemism as a nucleus for holistic theories of the neurosciences

H. Isler1 and C. Jagella2
1Neurology Department, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland, and 2Institute of the History of Medicine, Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland

If there were any cultural guidelines for research on the history of the neurosciences they would certainly stress the importance of positivist, darwinist, mechanistic and localizing ideas as against any vitalist convictions. It is little known that animist and vitalist thinking was instrumental in the development of the neurosciences from the late 18th to the 20th centuries. One important example of this is mnemism, initiated by Richard Semon's book Die Mneme of 1904. It became a unifying concept for the Zurich school of "Brain psychiatry" despite the very different approaches of its protagonists Forel, Monakow, Eugene Bleuler and Adolph Meyer. Semon's Mneme was his view of a universal property of living matter, namely, its ability to receive impressions (engrams) and to evoke (ecphore) them. He interpreted both genetics and individual memory in these terms. The mneme concept made it possible for the Zurich neuropsychiatrists to fill the empty space left behind by the successful localizing research of earlier neuropsychiatrists such as Gudden and Hitzig, and to rally their Monist views against the adherents of psychophysical parallelism. From about 1905 to the 1930s Monakow, Bleuler and Adolph Meyer assembled their "neurobiology" and "psychobiology" around the central concept of mnemism, and the reform of American psychiatry by the latter was influenced by this background.

Internet resources for the history of neuroscience

R.A. Johnson1 and N.F. Stimson2
1Neuroscience History Archives, Brain Research Institute and Cataloging Department, University Research Library, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; and 2Health Sciences Library, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA

The presenters, an archivist/special collections librarian and a reference/bibliographic instruction librarian, will discuss a variety of Internet tools, from electronic mail (e-mail) and listservs to gophers and the World Wide Web. This session will describe how neuroscience historians can use the Internet to supplement and in some cases replace other forms of communication and information retrieval. The presenters will suggest strategies for (1) using and archiving e-mail; (2) participating in subscription-based electronic conferences (discussion groups and distribution lists) which are useful for broadcasting queries, announcements, job notices and scholarly and not-so-scholarly opinions; (3) accessing the on-line catalogs of libraries, museums and archives with holdings in neuroscience history; (4) finding and searching index and abstract databases; (5) retrieving and/or providing full-text files, such as electronic journals and newsletters, notes and readings for on-line seminars and workshops, and archived records of organizations such as the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN); and (6) browsing the World Wide Web, sampling the individual (e.g., idiosyncratic lists of favorite resources), institutional (e.g., on-line exhibits and collection/repository guides) and commercial (e.g., antiquarian bookdealer catalogs) possibilities. They will also touch on the digital initiatives and standards that are paving the way for searchable on-line finding aids, and virtual text and image libraries. The presenters not only will rave about the power and promise of the Internet, but also will consider the limitations of the electronic information environment. The discussion period will provide the opportunity for neuroscience historians to voice their own information needs and concerns, and to shape the ISHN presence in the Internet community that is documenting the history of science, medicine and technology. The presenters welcome and encourage questions and suggestions before the meeting via mail or e-mail (ecz5rus@mvs.oac.ucla.edu or nstimson@acsu.buffalo.edu).

The classification of childhood movement/tic disorders, 1885-1996

L.S. Kiessling1 and H.I. Kushner2
1Departments of Pediatrics and Family Medicine, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Brown University School of Medicine, Pawtucket, RI, USA, and 2Department of History, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA

This paper examines the historical context for the classification of Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome [TS] as distinct from Sydenham's chorea [SC]. This separation, made most emphatically in the 1880s by Jean-Martin Charcot, was based upon observed differences in presenting symptoms. An alternative view, offered by a variety of physicians throughout the nineteenth century, focused on predisposing causes, rather than symptom manifestations. Those who emphasized an etiological perspective refused to accept Charcot's classificatory distinctions. Rather, these physicians insisted that SC and TS displayed a number of similarities that pointed to the conclusion that both were most likely variations of a common neurobiological mechanism. These later views largely disappeared by the mid-20th century, when psychological explanations overwhelmed organic claims about the etiology of tic disorders. The distinction between SC and TS was widened when, in 1956, Taranta and Stollerman established the link between prior infection with Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus [GABHS] and later onset of SC. By the late 1960s, TS was increasingly viewed as an idiopathic neurobiological disorder, connected with the transmission and reception of dopamine. Thus, by the 1970s TS and SC were seen as completely different disorders.
Although several recent findings suggest that what is often diagnosed as TS may be one of the possible manifestations of a variety of different underlying pathologies, including, as with SC, antibody reaction to prior GABHS infection, a number of obstacles have made it difficult for current researchers and practitioners to rethink the possible etiological similarities between these disorders. The reasons for this are as much historical as clinical, and a historical perspective calls into question the diagnostic and clinical benefits of always viewing these disorders as distinct entities. A historical perspective suggests interactive modes between host and environment. Although we are also involved in clinical research connected with these issues, the purpose of this paper is not to make specific clinical claims. Rather, it explores the extent to which adherence to the classificatory boundaries established in the late 19th century has framed current clinical thinking, inhibiting consideration of alternative causal explanations (in the sense of predisposing co-factors) for childhood movement disorders and obsessive compulsive behaviors.

The evolution of neurology and psychiatry (1900-1930) as seen by Winkler and Von Monakow: analysis of their correspondence between 1908 and 1927

P.J. Koehler1 and C. Jagella2
1Department of Neurology, De Wever Hospital, Heerlen, The Netherlands, and 2Institute of the History of Medicine, Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland

Cornelis Winkler (1855-1941), the first Dutch professor of psychiatry and neurology (1893), and Constantin von Monakow (1853-1913), the first Swiss professor of neurology, became friends after their first meeting in Amsterdam during the International Conference on Psychiatry and Neurology in 1907. Since that year they corresponded on several personal as well as professional subjects. They met several times and played an important role in the brain Commission. Several interesting subjects as discussed in their correspondence, such as the controversy on localization, plans to make a brain atlas, and in particular the relationship between psychiatry and neurology (Freud and Bleuler) and the continuing threat of their institutions to be closed, will be presented.

Robert Graves and neurology

J.B. Lyons
Department of the History of Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

Armand Trousseau of Paris valued highly The Clinical Lectures of Robert James Graves (1796-1853). The Dublin physician's book never left Trousseau's study and he praised particularly "the lectures which treat of paralysis." These, he said, "contain a complete doctrine," enlarging concepts introduced by Whytt and Prochaska. Gowers (1892) and Kinnier Wilson (1954) have credited Graves with an early account of peripheral neuritis; more recently Lawrence C. McHenry (1969) referred to him as the first to recognise that disease processes may affect the peripheral nerves. My critical appraisal of the contributions of Robert Graves to neurology, and my account of the clinical cases of paralysis, chorea, epilepsy, etc., presented by him to his students, is discussed against the contemporary framework appropriate to the bicentenary year. Graves coined an epitaph by which he hoped to be remembered: "He Fed Fevers." The Irish physician is, however, commemorated eponymously for his description (1835) of exophthalmic goitre (Graves' disease); and for his prowess as an innovative teacher. His disciples included Osler's mentors, James Bovell and Palmer Howard.

Constructing Phineas Gage

M. Macmillan
School of Psychology, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

Over the past 150 years five attempts (by Harlow, Bigelow, Cobb, the Tylers, and the Damasio's) have been made to reconstruct the damage done to Phineas Gage's brain and to relate it to the changes the accident produced in his behaviour. The poster will contain a display of the assumptions underlying each of the reconstructions and illustrate pictorially the very different conclusions reached. Different assumptions have been made about the entry and exit points of the tamping iron and these affect its assumed path. The conclusions about the damage vary over the involvement of the right hemisphere, the amount of damage to the left ventricle, and to the medial and the ventral surfaces of the left hemisphere. The discrepancies in the descriptions of the behavioral changes given by the "constructors" will also be brought out. These range from claims that there was no alteration or only small deficits in memory and the ability to calculate to claims that Gage could not control his behaviour or that he became a psychopathic personality.

Mondino dei Luzzi and Guido da Vigevano on the brain and spinal cord

R. Olry
University of Québec, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada

Mondino dei Luzzi and Guido da Vigevano are two great names in the history of medieval anatomy, the former by his Anothomia Mundini that was probably the first book of anatomy based on the dissection of human bodies, and the latter by the plates of his Anothomia designata per figuras. Mondino dei Luzzi was born in the last third of the thirteenth century (1275?) in Bologna where he practiced from 1290 until his death in 1326. Guido da Vivgevano was born in Lombardy towards 1300 and was the physician to Emperor Henri VII and Jeanne de Bourgogne, Queen of France. The first edition of Anothomi Mundini was published in Pavia on 19 December 1478 (over a century after the death of the author) by the Italian printer Antonio de Carcano. It is a folio-leaf book of twenty-two pages in Gothic print without plates. Four pages are devoted to skull, meninges, and the central nervous system, but the interpretation of the text remains difficult as Mondino dei Luzzi indiscriminately utilizes Latin and Arabic terminologies. The Anothomia designata per figuras, written in 1345, is the tenth and last part of a book dedicated to Philippe de Valois; it included twenty-four plates, eighteen of which have never been found. Plate XI shows a trepanning, plates XII to XV the cranial vault, meninges and brain, and plate XVI the spinal cord and the origin of spinal nerves that are only eighteen in number. In spite of their vagueness, the treatise of Mondino dei Luzzi and the plates of Guido da Vigevano have to be regarded as important steps in the history of medieval anatomy.

The medial lemniscus in the nineteenth century: discovery and controversies

R. Olry1, M.-G. Martinoli1 and Y. De Smet2
1 University of Québec, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada, and 2Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Ettelbruck, Luxembourg

Though it has been mentioned by Albrecht von Haller as far back as 1756, what is termed as medial lemniscus remained enigmatic until 1876. In his famous study of 1809, the German anatomist Johann Christian Reil described an ascending tract that arose from the inferior olivar nucleus and ascended to the thalamus. Ludwig Türk (1851) and Charles Jacques Bouchard (1866), by means of Wallerian degeneration which was discovered some years before (1851), demonstrated that the ascending tracts of the posterior funiculus end in the posterior part of the medulla oblongata, but could not follow these pathways further. Theodor Herman Meynert attempted to answer this question by describing a "sensitive fasciculus" (1872) which arose from both gracile and cuneate nuclei, ascended through the crus cerebri along the lateral side of the corticospinal tract, and reached the occipital cortex by the internal capsule and the corona radiata of the brain. The year 1876 was then crucial for the understanding of bulbothalamic pathways: on the one hand, the French anatomists Philibert Constant Sappey and Maurice Duval made the first accurate description of the current medial lemniscus. On the other hand, the German psychiatrist Paul Emil Flechsig succeeded in refuting Meynert's description by studying the chronology of myelinization of both sensitive and motor decussations in the medulla oblongata. However, the place of the inferior olivar nucleus in bulbothalamic pathways was still to be solved: Flechsig (1883) persisted in believing that the inferior olivar nucleus receives inputs from the gracile and cuneate nuclei and subsequently projects to the cerebellum. Konstantin von Monakow and Ludwig Edinger argued against this description owing to pathological and embryological experiments respectively; the latter by noting a degeneration of the contralateral medial lemniscus after hemisection of the lowest part of the medulla oblongata (1883), the former by finding that the posterior funiculus, but not the olivar system, is myelinated in the brain stem of an eight month old fetus (1885). Our knowledge of the medial lemniscus therefore owes much more to Sappey, Duval, Flechsig, von Monakow and Edinger than to Reil whose name, however, remained in French neuroanatomical terminology which describes the medial lemniscus as "Reil's band."

A sense of well being as a symptom of multiple sclerosis: a look back

D. Pownall and S. Finger
Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

During the 1870s, when Charcot first described the symptoms of what he called the "disseminated sclerosis," he astutely noted that patients with this disorder often exhibit unusual affective states. In the 1920s, several clinical neurologists, including Kinnier Wilson, investigated the connection between multiple sclerosis (MS) and an inappropriate sense of well being, which was referred to as euphoria sclerotica. Since then, other investigators have asked if this mild euphoric state correlated with other MS symptoms, such as cognitive deficits, severity of the disease, the locus of the plaques, or secondary psychological reaction to the life-threatening disorder itself. This paper looks back at these developments in the history of MS.

Cognition and multiple sclerosis: A historical analysis of medical perceptions

J.T.E. Richardson, A. Robinson and I. Robinson
Centre for the Study of Health, Sickness and Disablement, Department of Human Sciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK

This paper is a study of the accounts of cognitive disorders in multiple sclerosis (MS) from the time of the earliest reported cases in the mid 19th century. It demonstrates that cognitive disorders were only relatively rarely distinguished from the general category of "mental symptoms", in relation to which a broad range of affective disorders was often considered a crucial indicator. Case study methods led to many disputes over the extent and nature of such symptoms, exacerbated by different traditions in Britain, Germany, France and the United States. What are now recognizably appropriate scientific methods were only used in a modest number of studies in the 1950s and 1960s in relation to cognitive issues, and it was still argued as late as the mid 1970s that affective rather than cognitive processes were the key to understanding the psychological aspects of MS. However, major changes in the early 1980s in the development of methodologies for the detection of subtle and widespread cognitive changes in MS, in the use of MRI techniques to study further the link between cognitive deficits and other pathological processes, and in the increasing collaboration between neurologists and neuropsychologists accelerated work in this area. In conclusion, the development of research in the cognitive aspects of MS has not been a steady and linear process, but one that has been hesitant and problematic. Paradoxically, recent interest in these processes has disclosed their complexity, has led to considerable debate about methods, and has focused attention on the need for further research. In addition, the pressure to use the findings of such studies to improve patients' everyday lives has indicated the necessity to consider again the possible association between cognitive and affective processes--a link which much 20th-century neuropsychological research has been concerned to undermine.

Gustave Dax and his continuing fight for recognition by the Paris elite

D. Roe and S. Finger
Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

In 1865, three papers on cerebral dominance were published, one authored by Paul Broca, one by Marc Dax and one by Gustave Dax. The publication of these papers set off a priority debate that cannot be easily resolved. Gustave claimed that his long dead father had written his paper and presented it orally in Montpellier in 1836, thus making him the first person to write about cerebral dominance. He also claimed that he himself was the second person to write on cerebral dominance and the first to try to localize the center for speech in just one part of the left hemisphere (the median lobule). Nevertheless, Broca, who said he did not like debates about priority, managed to gain more recognition than the Daxes for the discoveries that Gustave felt his father and he had made earlier. In his fight for priority, Gustave published several seething letters to set the record straight. The presentation will examine Gustave's letters and the events that triggered his anger.

The history of head injuries: an overview

F. Clifford Rose
London Neurological Centre, London, UK

The distinction between head injuries and trauma to the brain was not recognised until the last century. Tracing the development of this distinction from Egyptian papyri and trepanation, and the realisation of such concepts as concussion, compression and contrecoup is recounted from the earliest times onwards. Most of the historical figures in this development were surgeons, which may explain the very late explanation of neurological signs, particularly of such complications as intracranial haematomas. This important topic has been largely neglected by historical researchers and a plea is made for more widespread study.

Descartes and modern neuroscience

C.U.M. Smith
Vision Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

It is singularly appropriate that this first International Conference on the History of the Neurosciences should be held on the 400th anniversary of the individual who is commonly regarded as the fons et origio of our discipline: Renes Descartes (1,2,3). He also, of course, stands at the fountainhead of the modern era of philosophy. It is doubly appropriate, therefore, that he should be represented at this meeting for the 1990s have witnessed an upsurge of interest in neurophilosophy and consciousness studies. In this presentation I discuss how far Descartes' neurophysiology should indeed be regarded as the fountainhead of late twentieth century neuroscience. Descartes' micromechanistic interpretation of brain function was a new thing in the early 1600s. Much of his other material has deeper historical roots. In opposition to references 1, 2 and 3, I question whether the Cartesian micromechanistic paradigm adequately represents brain theory in our times. I argue that ideas flowing from other traditions have largely replaced the paradigm behind his geometrising iatrohydraulics. It is concluded that residual Cartesianism may now adversely affect our understanding of brain function and dysfunction.

1Huxley, T.H., 1874, in Collected Essays, vol. 1, 1898, p. 1898.
2Foster, M., 1901, Lectures on the History of Physiology, p. 278.
3Woodger, J.H., 1967, Biological Principles: A Critical Study, p. 48.

Descartes' two pineal neuropsychologies

C.U.M. Smith
Vision Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

It is singularly appropriate that this first International Conference on the History of the Neurosciences should be held on the 400th anniversary of the founding father of our discipline: Renes Descartes (1,2,3). He also, of course, stands at the fountainhead of the modern era of philosophy. It is doubly appropriate, therefore, that he should be represented at this meeting for the 1990s have witnessed an upsurge of interest in neurophilosophy and consciousness studies. In this poster I discuss a central issue in his brain science and neurophilosophy: his pineal neuropsychology. A close reading of his early and late accounts shows two very different pineal neuropsychologies. In his earliest work, Traite de l'homme (1629-32), which he held back on learning of Galileo's collision with the Holy Office, he presents a thoroughly naturalistic account; in his last work, Passions de l'ame, written just before he succumbed to the rigors of a Swedish winter in February 1650, we find the dual-substance account for which he is famous. This poster discusses the differences between the two accounts, considers whether they are incompatible and whether the later Descartes masked his true views.

1Huxley, T.H., 1874, in Collected Essays, vol. 1, 1898, p. 201.
2Foster, M., 1901, Lectures on the History of Physiology, p. 278.
3Woodger, J.H., 1967, Biological Principles: A Critical Study, p. 48.

Cabanis and the role of phosphorus in the brain

T.L. Sourkes
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montrél, Québec, Canada

Georges Cabanis (1757-1808), one of the leading idéologues of France, was the author of an extensive evaluation of the relation between the physical and the moral, or psychological, aspects of man (1798). In the sixth of the 12 memoirs of which his study was composed, he commented on the possible roles of phosphorus in the brain. He conceived of the brain and its appendages, i.e. the nervous system as a whole, as being a special reservoir of phosphorus, as well as of electricity, in the animal body. According to him the electrical phenomena of the brain were associated with the cerebral phosphorus, perhaps being generated by the slow combustion of that substance. His knowledge of phosphorus came from the texts of Antoine François de Fourcroy (1755-1809), one of the leading chemists of the day and an important populariser of Lavoisier's new theory of chemistry. A few years before Cabanis's work appeared, Fourcroy had reported the presence of phosphorus in the brain, not knowing that this had already been recorded in 1715 by the Giessen chemist Johann Thomas Hensing (1683-1726). Cabanis's concern with phosphorus was based on its phosphorescence and the production of heat during its oxidation. At that time both light and heat were regarded as elements. Cabanis also suggested that the brain might even be the organ where phosphorus is produced (a vitalist concept not uncommon even at that time), although he offered also an alternative: that phosphorus is derived from the food and incorporated into the animal body. He believed that the amount of the element found in the brain after death is proportional to the level of activity of the nervous system during life, but offered no supporting evidence. Considering that Cabanis expressed the view that hitherto chemistry had been of little use to medicine, his phosphorus theory was an earnest attempt to exploit the possibilities of the science in which France was then supreme.

Research in neuroscience that does not follow the hypothetical deductive model: columnar organization and the work of Mountcastle and Hubel & Wiesel

V. Wan
Committee on the Conceptual Foundations of Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Currently, investigators in neuroscience are under pressure to follow the hypothetical deductive model because funding agencies believe it is the most productive way to do science. However, I show that neither Mountcastle's research program, that led to columnar organization, nor Hubel & Wiesel's research program, which developed the idea, proceeded by testing predictions logically derived from a formal thesis. First, factors not included in the hypothetical deductive model best explain the development of Mountcastle and Hubel & Wiesel's research programs. Second, the idea of columnar organization was a general, flexible explanation of the data rather than a rigid, logical thesis. Both Mountcastle's program (from 1949-1963) and Hubel and Wiesel's research program (from 1959 to 1977) were shaped by: (1) unexpected observations, (2) the availability of new techniques, (3) general themes (e.g. the relationship between structure and function, sensory coding by single neurons, hierarchical processing in the cortex), and (4) questions and ideas for new experiments that arose from earlier experiments. In discussing the concept of columnar organization, I focus on Hubel & Wiesel's modifications of Mountcastle's idea: (1) Mountcastle described both discrete columns and columns with partially shifted overlap while Hubel & Wiesel required columns to have discrete boundaries, and (2) they relaxed his requirement that columns continue uninterrupted from pia to white matter. My study raises the question: Does the hypothetical deductive model not fit other productive research programs in neuroscience? I have analyzed other versions of the concept of columnar organization in Wan, 1995 (Columnar organization, the origins and adaptation of a concept: a study in the history of neuroscience. M.S. Thesis. State University of New York at Buffalo).

The sacred disease of Heraclitus

G.K. York and D.A. Steinberg
The Såa Institute, Fiddletown, CA and Kaiser Stockton Medical Center, Stockton, CA, USA

The first Greek mention of epilepsy is often assigned to Heraclitus of Ephesus (c.540-c.480 B.C.), because of the fragment, from the doxographer Diogenes Laertius (300 C.E.), "conceit is a sacred disease, and seeing is being deceived." (Diels and Kranz 46) However, the archaic Greek were generous in attributing disease to divine intervention or possession, and the context need have nothing to do with epilepsy. Conversely, the fragment uses the term "sacred disease" to mean a supernatural influence, in a way which is consistent with contemporaneous usage. The use of paradox and intentional obscurity is characteristic of Heraclitus's writings, and he used medical analogies in two other fragments. Some scholars consider this fragment a forgery because it expresses an anachronistic, late Stoic philosophical view, but in comparing disease to an idea, the fragment shows a proto-Stoic materialism. In using the concept of disease metaphorically, Heraclitus displays an intrinsically scientific attitude. Even though the fragment does not refer to epilepsy, it is an interesting account of archaic Greek scientific thinking.

Last revised 8 July 1997.