10th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)
St. Andrews University, Scotland
Go to Meeting Program
Kant and the magnitude of sensations
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) published his famous Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Essentially, this work is a theory of cognition. Kant says that “all human cognition begins with intuitions, goes from there to concepts, and ends with ideas.” He distinguishes three faculties of cognition, i.e., sensibility, understanding, and reason. The Critique concentrates upon pure reason because some of its inferences may give rise to metaphysical illusions.
In that part of his work where Kant describes the “Principles of Pure Understanding”, we find a section on perception. Here, he introduces his doctrine of the real in the appearances (realitas phænomena). Sensations are evoked by the real which has an intensive magnitude, i.e. a degree of influence on sense. Sensations, on the other hand, also have degrees which Kant exemplifies by a brightness estimate (degree of sensation of sunlight expressed as multiples of illuminations from the moon). It seems to have been clear to Kant that both the stimulus (in his text “the real”) and the response (the sensation) can be quantified and that an appropriate mathematics can be applied to their magnitudes. His suggestion to work out this kind of mathematics is found in the Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (§ 24) where he calls it “the second application of mathematics (mathesis intensorum) to natural science.”
Kant’s text referring to the magnitude of sensation is concise and does not always differentiate clearly enough between the stimulus and the resulting response. It nevertheless contains some essential elements of psychophysics as this branch of science was named in 1860 by Gustav Theodor Fechner.
Eradication of opium smoking in Taiwan: Professor Tsungming Tu’s scientific and clinical missions during the Japanese colonial period
Nai Shin CHU
The eradication of opium smoking is one of the most proud accomplishments in Taiwan’s medical history and it was due to a fruitful cooperation between government and academic medicine. Because of widespread opium smoking in Taiwan, the Japanese colonial government decided in 1897 to eradicate it by adopting a policy of gradual prohibition. The government established the Taiwan Monopoly Bureau to manufacture and sell opium only to opium addicts, and at the same time established the Government Central Hospital for enthabitual treatment. Those measures were intended to decrease the number of opium smokers gradually over the years.
The scientific and clinical aspects of opium addiction were studied by Dr. Tsungming Tu, who was Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Government Medical College in Taipei. Although Professor Tu was also interested in snake venoms and traditional Chinese medicine, he attained international fame through his work on opium addiction. Professor Tu’s basic research on opium and morphine included: (1) the pharmacological actions of opium smoking and morphine; (2) the symptoms and pathophysiology of opium withdrawal; and (3) the detection of morphine alkaloids in the urine to confirm opium consumption. His enthabitual treatment of opium addiction was unique. Addicts were admitted to the Government Central Hospital, but an abrupt withdrawal of opium was not attempted. Instead, opium withdrawal was gradual and opium was partly substituted by small amounts of morphine. Withdrawal symptoms were further relieved by special pills which enhanced sympathetic activity. By such treatment, the habit of opium smoking could often be eliminated in a short time, usually a few weeks, “without heavy suffering.”
Professor Tu also conducted an epidemiological survey on opium addiction in conjunction with the government’s general census from 1897 to 1900, and found there were 169,064 opium addicts, constituting 6.3% of the island population. His group also studied the causes of death and the mortality rate of opium addicts. Shortly after World War II, the number of opium smokers in Taiwan became negligible. Accordingly, the Government Central Hospital was closed and the Taiwan Monopoly Bureau changed its production from opium to tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Professor Tu’s contribution to Taiwan’s neurosciences was impressive, particularly in the field of opium addiction. His involvement in opium research was both basic and clinical, an extraordinary accomplishment for a basic neuroscientist.
Thomas Willis, Richard Lower and Cerebri Anatome (1664)
Samuel M. FELDMAN
Mid-17th century Oxford, during the Commonwealth era that followed the English Civil War and through the early years of Restoration of the Monarchy, was the locus of a major development in experimental science. It is here that many of the founders of the Royal Society interacted, among them Thomas Willis, whose Cerebri Anatome has generally been viewed as a watershed treatise that went well beyond all earlier descriptions of the central and autonomic nervous system.
But controversy about Willis’ role in the research that led to the publication of Cerebri Anatome arose almost at once. Anthony Wood, a contemporary Oxford diarist and historian, questioned the intellectual contribution of Willis, versus that of Richard Lower, Willis’ student and extremely capable research assistant, who later made other major contributions to physiology. Perhaps the most forceful criticism came much later from Sir Michael Foster, the distinguished Cambridge physiologist of the late 19th and early 20th century (who was Sherrington’s teacher), who also believed that Lower had been the creative genius behind Cerebri Anatome, as did John Fulton of Yale.
I had thought the controversy to have been settled in Willis’ favor after the writings of John Spillane and William Feindel over the past twenty-five years and was surprised to see it appear again in recent times – even in a fictional account of the era. Accordingly I will review the trajectory of “evidence” that concluded that Lower was the intellectual force behind Cerebri Anatome and attempt yet another evaluation of the extent to which Willis and Lower are appropriately recognized for their respective contributions to this seminal work.
Benjamin Franklin and the discovery of shock-induced amnesia
Stanley FINGER and Frank ZAROMB
Shock-induced amnesia has received considerable attention since Cerletti popularized electroconvulsive shock therapy in the 1930s. Yet often overlooked is the fact that in 1750 Benjamin Franklin recognized, albeit at first by accident, that passing electricity through the head could affect memory for that experience and what might have happened just prior to it. Franklin described his observations on himself and others in several letters, one of which was published in his lifetime. In these letters he wrote that he did not even realize what had happened to him until he discovered that his once full Leyden jars had discharged and was told about the electricity that coursed through his head and body by others.
What Franklin experienced was confirmed by one of his closest physician-correspondents, Jan Ingenhousz, who exchanged information on his own shock-induced retrograde amnesia with him. During the 1780s, these two giants of the Enlightenment agreed that shocks to the head might have clinical utility, and both called, for the first time, for actual trials with “mad” patients. Successful clinical trials with subconvulsive shocks followed, as did new interest in electrical shock-induced amnesia, which was thought by many to be a new phenomenon. Cerletti and his followers had no idea of what had transpired in the eighteenth century when ECT came of age and the retrograde amnesia was tied to the cure.
Nosology of disorders with Parkinson-like symptoms prior to Parkinson
James Parkinson was clear in his 1817 pamphlet on the disorder named for him that he was by no means describing a new disease, but rather one which until his time had been neglected by the medical profession. The question of the existence of Parkinsonism before 1817 has since been often discussed, and not only as a matter of idle curiosity; the major factor which has impeded development of an effective causal therapy for Parkinson’s disease has been ignorance regarding its precise nature. Examination of 18th century systematic medical texts yields descriptions of a number of nosological ‘species’ which include parkinsonism-like symptoms, particularly with respect to tremor and muscular rigidity. The fact that none of these authors described the total syndrome now termed ‘Parkinson’s disease’ is unsurprising; nosological categories were largely based upon single dominant symptoms and were largely independent of specific etiologies until well into the 19th century. Further, the full significance of symptoms such as tremor was sometimes overlooked because of its attribution to non-specific debility, and the concept of ‘parkinsonism’ as a specific disorder was only gradually accepted even after Parkinson’s description. Finally, the modern symptomatic concept of ‘Parkinson’s disease’ is actually not found in Parkinson’s 1817 description, but rather evolved in stages during the subsequent one hundred and fifty years. Parkinson’s description, however, was revolutionary in that it was one of the first attempts to incorporate a number of distinct neurological symptoms into a single nosological entity.
Brainstormings: from brayne to brain imaging, an etymology of the word brain
The colloquialism “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings true in the neurosciences today. With the aid of recent advancements in brain imaging technologies, the word brain now conjures up an impressive portfolio of active brain snapshots. These images have essentially replaced verbal treatises and idioms that once depicted the nature of the brain. In technical journals, for example, researchers insert the brain as they would a graph or table; to provide a compact toolbox of information for their readers. Similarly, popular magazines sport the brain on the cover, seeking to visually soothe the latest cultural grievance such as gender or race. Despite its recent photogenia, however, the brain has a rich epistemic history that predates its aesthetic coming of age. This paper explores how the fascinating etymology of the word brain gives insight into past conceptions of it while also offering an appreciation of the contemporary brain as a historically situated icon.
Victor Horsley’s experimental contributions to the study of myxoedema and cretinism
Sherry GINN1 and Joel VILENSKY2
Whereas Sir Victor Horsley is well known for the many contributions he made to neurosurgery, less well known are his to the treatment of both myxoedema and cretinism. Osler’s 1916 obituary of Horsley notes that a “direct result of his experimental work on the thyroid gland was the successful treatment of myxoedema, which for the first time placed organo-therapy on a scientific basis” (British Medical Journal 2:162-167, 1916). Horsley’s experiments on thyroid physiology extended from 1884 – 1890, while he was Director of the Brown Institute. Through direct experimentation with dogs and monkeys as well as selected experiments on human patients, Horsley demonstrated conclusively that removal of the thyroid gland produced both conditions, a fact generally not recognized before this time. Horsley’s comparison of surgical removal of the thyroid showed differential effects on the species tested, with animals such as monkeys exhibiting symptoms similar in onset and duration to humans. Horsley reported that removal of the thyroid gland resulted in nervous symptoms. Among these were tremors, rigidity and paralysis resulting from changes in the lower motor centers. Furthermore, the development of imbecility suggested that thyroid excision produced deficits in higher cortical functioning. Specifically, he stated that “slow hebetude ending in varying degrees of imbecility with easy disturbance of temper were the disorders related to the cortex of the brain” (Lancet: 1133, 1884). Horsley showed that it was possible to alleviate some of the psychological and physiological symptoms of both myxoedema and cretinism using transplanted thyroid tissue. Although these transplants were not always successful, several of Horsley’s students, notably George Murray, continued and extended his work by examining other ways in which myxoedema and cretinism could be treated (e.g., injecting an extract of thyroid tissue).
Neuroanatomical modelling in wax during the 18th century
Sherry GINN1 and Lorenzo LORUSSO2
Patients in ancient Rome appealed to gods such as Aesculapius, the god of medicine, for healing. The patients used terracotta models of organs to indicate the disease from which they were suffering. Such models demonstrated that anatomical representations of the human body were known from the earliest times of human history. One of the first anatomical representations in sculpture was the flayed man (the body is shown without its skin) produced in 1600 by the artist Lodovico Cardi (1559-1613), also know as ‘Il Cigoli,’ who trained in the Florentine school of Bronzino. About a century later Gaetano Zumbo (1656-1701), a Sicilian abbot who studied in Bologna, became the first person to build anatomical models in different coloured waxes.
By the 18th century the problem of training doctors became increasingly pressing. Professors found wax medical models were useful in helping students learn both the basic and clinical disciplines. To facilitate this training, a wax modellers’ school began in Bologna at the beginning of the 18th century. These artists were responsible for founding the Florentine school at the Museo della Specola. One of the first modellers with great knowledge of the human body was the Bolognese Ercole Lelli (1702-1766). He was commissioned by Pope Lambertini to produce a collection of wax models for the University of Bologna Anatomy Laboratory. Lelli was helped in his work by the Bolognese artist and anatomist Giovanni Manzolini (1700-1755), who in turn was aided by his wife, Anna Morandi (1716-1774). Anna Morandi had acquired considerable skill as an anatomist in her own right, and she was particularly interested in neuroanatomy. Her famous self-portrait in wax shows her at work on a brain. Anna continued her research and modelling in neuroanatomy following her husband’s death. She became famous for her work throughout Europe, and was the only woman involved in wax anatomical modelling at that time. Her work and the work of other modellers contributed greatly to the training of doctors in the18th century.
Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Darwin and the "evolution" of the human brain
Stephen E. GLICKMAN
“I hope you have not murdered too completely your own and my child” — Charles Darwin to Alfred Russel Wallace, March 27, 1869.
In 1864 Wallace had written a paper on human evolution that received high praise from Darwin. Five years later, Wallace split from his co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection, over the evolution of the human brain, suggesting creation by a ‘Higher’ or ‘Overruling Intelligence’ and drawing the letter cited above. In a review of Lyell’s Principles of Geology, referring to “the mental requirements of the lowest savages,” Wallace argued that: “The higher moral faculties and those of pure intellect and refined emotion are useless to them.... How, then, was an organ developed so far beyond the needs of its possessor? Natural selection could only have endowed the savage with a brain a little superior to that of an ape, whereas he actually possesses one but very little inferior to that of the average members of our learned societies.”
Biographers attempting to grapple with Wallace’s apostasy, have generally been drawn toward his interest in spiritualism. That life-lasting commitment was genuine and is surely part of the story. But, there was also Wallace’s extreme “adaptationism.” As expressed, in a rarely-cited paper, “... no special organ, no characteristic form or marking, no peculiarities of instinct or of habit ... can exist but which must now be or once have been useful to the individuals or races which possess them.”
Finally, Wallace believed in Phrenology, sparked, in large part, by reading the works of George Combe. As an adaptationist / phrenologist, from his vantage point, Wallace had no choice but to defect: if an organ existed, in order to have been created by natural selection, “it must now be or once have been useful ...” Wallace’s citations of Ferrier and Hitzig, as justifying his early faith in Phrenology, will be discussed.
Sir William Osler’s contribution to the study of childhood aphasia
Paula HELLAL and Marjorie LORCH
In 1889, William Osler published an important contribution to paediatric neurology, his monograph on The Cerebral Palsies of Children. It was composed of a series of 120 cases reviewed as a group with consideration given to relevant factors including gender, age at symptom onset, etiology, and laterality. Significant in this corpus was the inclusion of 13 children who also presented with aphasic symptoms.
In the latter half of the 19th century most physicians considered aphasia in childhood to be a transient condition: Any language difficulty would disappear quickly, though the paralysis might remain indefinitely. Osler, in his influential textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine (1892) made his position clear, “In young persons the outlook is good, and the power of speech is gradually restored apparently by the education of the centres on the opposite side of the brain. Children often make rapid progress.” Single case studies in which the child failed to recover language function did appear in the literature but were typically overlooked or viewed as anomalies; exceptions which proved the rule.
Osler’s monograph was the first systematic analysis of acquired aphasia accompanying paralysis in children. These 13 aphasic cases were all under the care of the same physician and were all subject to very similar assessment and treatment procedures. They provide important information on the long-term recovery patterns in child aphasic patients. This paper considers the importance of these early cases and Osler’s later work on language impairment with the context of early modern neuroscientific theory.
Carl Westphal's 'pseudosclerosis' of 1883: A misleading term and a source of errors
After C. Westphal’s 1883 differentiation of ‘pseudosclerosis’ from multiple sclerosis, and after Strümpell’s description in 1898 of children dying from ‘pseudosclerosis’ (one of them with cirrhosis of the liver), the concept of Westphal-Strümpell pseudosclerosis survived for a long time, even after the discovery of the disease entity by K. Wilson in 1912 which was identical for most cases of ‘Westphal-Strümpell pseudosclerosis.’ Its clinical and histological characteristics were established in the first two decades of the 20th century in Germany (Kayser, Fleischer, Alzheimer, Spielmeyer, Opalski), parallel to Wilson’s putative delineation. After the contribution of Hall from Copenhagen in 1921, the term hepato-lenticular degeneration (Wilson) was adopted, but in Germany the application of Westphal-Strümpell pseudosclerosis to the adult type of Wilson’s disease continued until recently. On the other hand, the first of Westphal’s two cases got another interpretation: it was related to the akinetic-rigid, mostly juvenile type of Huntington’s disease (Kehrer 1928, Bittenbender and Quadfasel 1962), and the eponym “Westphal’s variant of HD” was created by Dutch authors (Mackenzie-va der Noorda 1960, Bruyn 1968). Finally the term ‘pseudosclerosis’ seems to have expired. Its long tenacious life especially in the German literature would have been unnecessary if Wilson’s advice from 1912 to abandon it had been followed.
Sir James Crichton-Browne (1840-1938): Pioneer neuroscientist and scientific dropout
Having qualified in Edinburgh in 1861, James Crichton-Browne was appointed superintendent of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum at Wakefield in Yorkshire at the age of 26 years. During his ten years in that post he transformed the asylum into a hospital and a research centre. The six volumes of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum Reports (1871-6) with their 80 seminal monographs by himself and others, including Hughlings Jackson, David Ferrier, Clifford Allbutt, Lauder Brunton, etc., covered neuro-anatomy, neuro-physiology, neuro-pathology, clinical methods and therapeutics, and animal experiments.
At age 36 years, in 1876, he obtained the lucrative post of ‘Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy,’ which allowed him other activities such as becoming one of the four founder editors of Brain in 1878, a post he held for its first ten years. He continued as ‘Visitor’ into his eighties and as a writer on medico-social and literary matters until he died aged 97 years.
Symposium I: 18th and 19th Century Edinburgh Neuroscience
Internet resources for neuroscience history: another update
Russell A. JOHNSON
Since the first annual meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) in Buffalo in 1996, the number and variety of Internet-based communication and information retrieval resources for historians has skyrocketed. E-mail, listservs, homepages, and bibliographic indexes have been joined and in some cases supplanted by full-text and audiovisual databases, blogs, and Google™. This presentation will offer a primer to some of the commonplace, new, and/or most useful tools, including the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, PubMed, and the Online Archive of California and similar gateways. Neuroscience historians will be asked to discuss their information needs and to recommend digital or digitized resources for librarians, archivists, and other information professionals to procure, reformat, refine, or create.
Phrenology in Edinburgh during the nineteenth century
An account is presented of the development of Phrenology from the early observations of Gall towards the end of the 18th century, and how his doctrine was effectively taken over by his disciple Spurzheim during the early decades of the 19th century. It was Spurzheim who convinced many, but particularly George Combe in Edinburgh, that it was Gall’s Phrenology, as interpreted by him, that provided a means of facilitating social advance that held out the promise of improving the lot of the population. He convinced Combe and his associates that they had a moral responsibility to improve the educational facilities available to the working classes, for example, by reducing their hours of labour and increasing their access to Mechanics’ Institutes. It was here that they could widen their horizons by means of self-improvement.
Many of the early Members of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society were, as lawyers or advocates, keen to introduce penal reform. This was in the expectation that by this means they might reduce the incidence of criminality in the population, even if this took several generations to achieve. The Members met on a regular basis, between the establishment of the Society and the early 1830s, and then less frequently, and debated a wide range of questions on subjects related to Phrenology. By this means, they maintained an interest in the subject, and also persuaded others to establish Phrenological Societies both elsewhere in Britain, on the Continent and in the United States of America.
Because of the nature of the subject, the Members of the Edinburgh Society acquired a large number of artefacts that allowed them to more easily understand the complexities of their ‘science’, and to convince others of its validity and general applicability. Within a few years, nearly 40 other phrenological societies were established elsewhere in Britain, although the Members of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society believed that they had a special role to play in promoting the purity of their ‘science.’ For many of the Members of the Edinburgh Society, and later almost everywhere where there were adherents of Phrenology, their gospel was Combe’s Constitution of Man.
Symposium I: 18th and 19th Century Edinburgh Neuroscience
Charcot’s influence on European literature
Peter J. KOEHLER1 and Ragnar STIEN2
Scientific progress, particularly in medicine, is often reflected in contemporary art and literature. In a previous paper (“About medicine and the arts: Charcot and French literature at the fin-de-siècle” presented at the Annapolis meeting in 1998), the influence of Charcot and the Salpêtrière school on French naturalistic literature and subsequent movements was studied.
For the present paper we extended our scope and studied the influence on European literature. We searched for connections between Charcot, Salpêtrière, hysteria, or hypnosis on one hand and literature from Austria, England, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries, on the other. In particular authors from the naturalistic movements in the various countries were screened. We categorized the influence in three Levels: 1) direct references to or connections with Charcot; 2) direct or identifiable influence from his work; 3) indirect references or influence from his pupils/work.
At least two periods of influence may be distinguished: A) early [1880-1920] and B) late [1970-present]. A) As expected and partly presented previously, most influences were found in France (Zola, Huysmans, the Daudets, Maupassant, Claretie, Céline, Godard, Proust, Mirbeau, Prévost, Aragon, Breton; mostly Level 1). In addition we found influences on one Austrian (Schnitzler; Level 3), four Dutch (Van Eeden, Couperus, Aletrino, Emants; Level 1, 2 and 3), two English (Stoker and James; Level 1), no German, three Russian (Tolstoj, Kovalevskaya, Tourgenjev; Level 1), two Swedish (Strindberg and Munthe, Level 1 and 3), three Norwegian (Bjørnson, Kinck and Richter Frich, Level 1), and one Danish ( Bang, Level 3) authors. Italian and Spanish literature needs more study.
B) A second group of novels in which Charcot and the Salpêtrière played an important role is found in the past thirty years, in particular the feministic literature, e.g. Anna Furse. Recent authors who mention Charcot further include the American Siri Hustvedt (2003), and the Swedish Per Olov Enquist with a complete novel about Charcot, Blanche Wittman and Marie Curie (2004).
Charcot and the Salpêtrière school influenced literature in the past and still does.
Early animal experiments in the analysis of clinical findings in motor function: The early 18th century contributions of Pourfour du Petit
Lawrence KRUGER1 and Larry W. SWANSON2
Francois Pourfour du Petit (1664-1741), generally known as “Petit”, is probably best known for his numerous contributions to ophthalmology, including several instruments for measurement, and especially for establishing a successful procedure for cataract surgery. He also performed animal experiments interrupting the “intercostal nerves” (cervical sympathetics) in 1727, describing the clinical sympathectomy syndrome later bearing the eponym of Horner. During the European wars of the Grand Alliance and the Succession, Petit observed soldiers’ head wounds and their striking contralateral motor consequences, described in a rare work published in Namur in 1710 entitled Lettres d’un medecin des hopitaux du roi a un autre medecin de ses amis. This consists of three essays, the first of which includes an account of lesions in the brain of dogs and a plausible anatomical analysis, immodestly presented as “un nouveau Systeme du Cerveau.” An account of Petit’s findings, his interpretation of the pyramidal decussation, and his career will be presented, as well as the impact and impediments in conducting a research project in the context of early European medicine.
Art and neuroscience in Renaissance Italy
Lorenzo LORUSSO1 and Sherry GINN2
The Renaissance saw the first systematic anatomical and physiological studies of the brain and human body because scientists, for the first time in centuries, were allowed to dissect human bodies for study. Renaissance artists were frequently found at dissections and their attention to detail can be observed in their products. Scientists themselves were increasingly artistic, and they created astonishing anatomical models that can still be studied.
Prior to the Renaissance knowledge of the nervous system was provided by the Roman physician, Galen, who had generalized human anatomy from his study of Barbary apes. However, the increasing secularization of Italian society during the Renaissance contributed to this systematic study of the inner body. Opinions about brain and human dissection changed during the Renaissance as notomia, based upon careful observation of human bodies, was born. It should be noted here that the word notomia was defined differently in Renaissance Italy than today. During the Renaissance the word meant dissection and was used to refer to a method of research, not a discipline of knowledge. Nevertheless, because notomia was such a new discipline, frequent mistakes were made, even at the dissecting table, and these “mistakes” can be observed in the works of painters known to have attended dissections.
Several treatises were written, by Ghiberti [1378-1455], Alberti [1404-1472] and Cellini [1500-1571], to name a few, extolling the reasons for studying anatomy and the effects such study would have on the painter and the sculptor. For this reason many Renaissance artists worked with anatomists, attending dissections and drawing body parts as they were removed. Examples included Michelangelo [1475-1564] working with Realdo Columbo and Leonardo da Vinci [1452-1519] working with Marcantonio della Torre. In addition to sculpture and painting, Renaissance artists displayed their products by engraving their works on copper as well as developing new and improved methods of printmaking.
The cross-fertilization of art and science in the Renaissance resulted in more scientific analyses of neuroanatomy as well as more creative ways in which such analyses could be depicted. Both art and science benefited from the reciprocal ways in which the two influenced each other even as they provided new ways of explaining the mysteries of the human body and mind.
“Soup” or “sparks”: Alexander Forbes and the synaptic transmission controversy
James A. MARCUM
On 29 April 1939, a symposium was held in Toronto, under the auspices of the American Physiological Society, to explore the controversy over transmission of the nerve impulse across the synapse. The then prevailing theory of synaptic transmission was the electrical conduction of a nerve impulse across the synapse. One of the participants at the symposium was Alexander Forbes of the Harvard Medical School, who gave the concluding address. During the late 1930s, the electrically oriented Forbes incorporated the notion of chemical synaptic transmission into his understanding of neurophysiology, although he remained ambivalent about the role of chemical transmitters in synaptic transmission. He blithely referred to them as the “soup at the synapse,” as compared to the “sparks” of electrical conduction. In his symposium paper, ‘Problems of Synaptic Function,’ Forbes compared the controversy of neurophysiologists over synaptic transmission to that of physicists over the nature of light. Forbes suggested that “the electrical and chemical theories of synaptic conduction may also prove not to be mutually contradictory after all” (Journal of Neurophysiology, 1939, p. 470). This symposium served as a watershed, after which the chemical theory of synaptic transmission gained prominence among neurophysiologists. In this paper, I examine the rise of the chemical theory of synaptic transmission from 1921 to 1939 and Forbes’ role in resolving the controversy.
The neurologist and the polemist, a Dutch brotherhood : Wim and Menno ter Braak
Bastiaan C. ter MEULEN, Marie Claire Y. de WIT, and Bart C. JACOBS
Glancing over a Dutch neurologists’ resume: Jan Willem Gijsbertus “Wim” ter Braak (1903-1971) had it all. As a resident he was trained by the famous Brouwer. He collaborated with the neurophysiologist Rademaker and during several years he worked as a clinical neurologist in The Hague. He came to Rotterdam shortly after World War II. Ter Braak founded the Department of Neurology at the Rotterdam University Hospital (currently: Erasmus-MC) in 1967.
We reflect on this extraordinary medical career and also on the particular relationship he had with Menno ter Braak (1902-1940). His brother Menno was a polemist, a “writer at war”, who as a most critical journalist took a leading role in the public opinion of the 1930s. He is best known for his opposition against the rise of National Socialism, not only in Germany but also among his fellow countrymen. On May 14th 1940, 4 days after the German invasion of The Netherlands, Menno died as he had planned beforehand, but under mysterious circumstances. His brother Wim played a crucial role in this tragedy, which we will try to disclose.
A brief history of the visual prosthesis
D. Andrew NELSON1, Warren E. FINN1, and Peter G. LOPRESTI2
The dream of being able to restore sight in the blind has captured the imagination of mankind. Until recently, the restoration of vision has seemed only as some miraculous event. The historical roots of the visual neuroprosthetic field are found in the early experiments in bioelectricity demonstrating nerves and muscles could become activated by electrical stimulation (Galvani) (Aldini) (Volta). The application of the idea to stimulation of the visual system in humans was first explored in the mid 20th century by Brindley. Subsequently, a series of pioneering researchers, such as Dobelle and Pollen, demonstrated the sensation of light could be evoked in humans with an appropriate electrical stimulus to the visual system. In this presentation, we trace the significant research that has fostered the growth of the field of visual neuroprosthetics. We review the pioneers in the field and some of their contributions. We present a graphic display of the historical milestones leading up to recent developments, including the four major approaches to reestablishing visual function.
Question of priority
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) is known for having described the organization of the motor cortex in 1745, 125 years before Gustav Fritsch (1838-1927) and Eduard Hitzig (1838-1907). He was a notable man of science who afterwards became the visionary, possibly psychotic, instigator of a ‘New Church.’ His renowned, younger contemporary, and countryman Johan Henrik Kellgren compared Emanuel Swedenborg’s and Sir Isaac Newton’s (1643-1726) analogous case histories in a poem written 1787, and found ES to be a fool in contrast to Sir Isaac. However, Emanuel Swedenborg’s ranking climbed for over 100 years. Following exhumations and translations of his writings on mineralogy, mathematics, physics, and neurobiology he was even sometimes deemed a genius.
Not all commentators were of one mind. O. Martin Ramström (1861-1930) placed Swedenborg in the genius school, whereas Emil A. G. Kleen (1847-1923), also a medical man, did not. The latter cited critical opinions regarding Swedenborg with reference to three well reputed academics, the geographer Robert Sieger (1864-1926), the mathematician Gustaf Eneström (1852-1923), and the Nobel Laureate, physicist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927). Nevertheless, Ramström and Kleen agreed on two points. They found Emanuel Swedenborg to have been oustandingly erudite. However, they also both arrived at the conclusion that his perhaps most admired statement, regarding the motor cortex’ organization, was a hypothetical theory conjectured from other investigators’ concrete observations. Certainly no mean feat, but the first real demonstration of the motor cortex’ organization probably was executed by Saucerotte (1741-1814). It was published in 1768.
When doing wrong was doing right, and why the impossible became the possible
Alison J. O'DONNELL
‘I have done nothing wrong, you can ask the patients’ (Heinrich Ruoff, Chief Male Nurse at Hadamar Asylum).
The nurses were happy to participate in the factory-style executions that occurred under the Nazi euthanasia policy at places like Hadamar, a psychiatric hospital. These nurses were either committed to what they thought was a correct procedure, or believed they had to obey the orders of others at all costs.
This paper will interpret these actions in relation to ethical principles, the influence of concepts of obedience which prevailed at the time, and the dehumanising of the Nazi propaganda machine. It will attempt to explain why some nurses crossed the boundary of conscience which changed their occupation from that of compassionate carer to that of active killer, and relate the history to current ethical dilemmas in nursing practice.
Symposium II: Euthanasia and Nazi Neuroscience
A less honorable way of expressing oneself on lobotomy
“Recently, doctors started using a procedure in which a hole is drilled in the skull of the patient, thereafter a knife is inserted into the holes and than it is whipped around in the brain until the frontal lobes stops to function.”
The above quotation was published in 1947, in Sweden, in the Tidens Kalender, a widely distributed year book that among other important societal subjects covered science and medicine. Professor Gunnar Dahlberg, a well-respected chief of the Swedish Race Biology Institute, edited Tidens Kalender. Since the end of the 1930s, besides his work as a physician and researcher within the Institute, Dahlberg was a well-known publisher of popular texts on medical matters.
Why did Dahlberg define psychosurgery in this way? In 1949, the year of the nomination of Moniz for the Nobel Prize in medicine, a Swedish pioneer of lobotomy, the psychiatrist, Dr Snorre Wohlfahrt, in collaboration with the neurosurgeon Olof Sjöqvist, reacted sharply to Dahlberg’s definition of lobotomy. These two professionals joined together in short but strong criticism of Professor Dahlberg’s crude description of the procedure that would soon become honored by the Nobel committee. It is conceivable that two lobotomists spoke out against a colleague who used sloppy language about what they regarded an established new method in medicine. But, it is less understandable why Professor Dahlberg chose to belittle lobotomy in the way he did.
This paper is aimed at an analysis of what might have been a kind of psychosurgery debate in Sweden hidden within some popular publications.
The taming of the ray and a “paradigmatic” torpedo: Electric fish research between the 17th and 18th century
Few episodes illustrate the transition from the opinions of ancient epochs to modern science better than the demonstration of the electric nature of the shock given by some singular fish, such as torpedo, the eel of Guiana, and Nile catfish. The crucial episode in this transition is due to the endeavour of the English “natural philosopher” John Walsh. After about two intense weeks of experiments on torpedoes carried out at La Rochelle in France, Walsh was able to write in his laboratory notebook (in an approximate French): “Je l’ai donté,” I have tamed “the indomitable virtue of the wonderful torpedo,” thus expressing his pride in achieving the evidence of the electric nature of this “virtue.” About one century before Walsh, in the wave of the Galilean scientific revolution, the shock of the torpedo had been the object of an intense investigation which led to the conclusion of its mechanical nature. This was due particularly to the work of Stefano Lorenzini (the Lorenzini of the ampullar electroreceptors). However, Walsh (and, after him, Lazzaro Spallanzani) denied the presence and importance of any mechanical phenomenon in the torpedo’s shock, their observations thus standing in remarkable contrast with Lorenzini’s detailed description of the movement of fish organs (or “muscoli falcati”) during the shock. Besides, on the basis of a Kuhnian paradigm shift, the difference between the mechanical and electrical views can be explained by taking into account a simple and somewhat surprising observation: in the case of Lorenzini’s experiments torpedo really moved but the movement was more the effect than the cause of the shock.
Howard Knox’s Cube Imitation Test
John T.E. RICHARDSON
The Cube Imitation Test (CIT) was devised by Knox (1913) as a nonverbal test of intelligence. Variants of the original apparatus and procedure have been used over the last 90 years in experimental, clinical, neuropsychological, educational, and cross-cultural research.
Performance on the CIT shows moderate correlations with mental age and IQ, but the association with Verbal IQ may be as strong as the association with Performance IQ. The CIT makes only modest contributions to measures of general intelligence, but it shows moderate correlations with other tests involving the retention of sequential information, including digit span. Performance increases between the ages of 3 and 10 and declines after the age of 50. Unlike many other tests of verbal or spatial thinking, the CIT shows no consistent difference in performance between male and female participants or between patients with damage to the left hemisphere and those with damage to the right hemisphere. People who are dyslexic are impaired on the test, but people who are deaf show no consistent impairment.
The CIT was a highly imaginative development of the notion of memory span. Later researchers were able to build on Knox’s conception using the technology of mental testing. Nevertheless, it is now clear that the CIT is primarily a tool for measuring rote memory and only indirectly a measure of intelligence. Moreover, it is very much a “hybrid” instrument. According both to participants’ introspective reports and to the objective impact of concurrent tasks, it relies upon verbal coding as much as upon visuospatial memory. However, the main contribution of Knox’s work lies in the fact that we nowadays take it for granted that any adequate measures of intelligence must incorporate both verbal tests and performance tests, and the CIT was central to this development in our thinking.
The origins of inkblots
John T.E. RICHARDSON
In the latter part of the 19th Century, games involving the construction and imaginative interpretation of inkblots were played by children on both sides of the Atlantic. Binet and Henri (1895) suggested that the interpretation of inkblots could be used to study variations in ‘involuntary imagination.’
In Moscow, this led Theodor Rybakov to include inkblots in an ‘Atlas’ of procedures for clinical and educational investigations of personality in 1910. In the United States, Dearborn (1897) prompted the use of inkblots in research on perception, memory and imagination. Delabarre compiled a collection of inkblots for use in experiments into the effects of hashish. Seashore (1908) produced a manual of psychology experiments, one of which used the presentation of inkblots to show the interpretative nature of perception. Whipple (1910) published a standard series of 20 inkblots. Pyle (1913) wrote a similar volume for teachers, and this too contained an ‘Imagination or Ink-Blot Test.’ Further use of inkblots was made by Knox (1914), a physician based at the Ellis Island immigration station in New York. He found that people classified as mentally deficient took longer to give interpretations of inkblots and tended to give impoverished interpretations.
The first British study of inkblots was carried out by Bartlett (1916). The responses demonstrated the interpretative nature of perception, or what Bartlett called the ‘effort after meaning.’ Parsons (1917) published a similar study involving children in Wales.
Whether Rorschach (1921) knew of the work on inkblots that had been published in France, the United States and Britain is not clear. Rorschach had worked in Moscow in 1913-1914, and he may well have come across Rybakov’s ‘Atlas.’ However, the value of inkblots in demonstrating the interpretative nature of perception and in studying individual variation in imaginative capacities had by that time already been well established.
Cauterization in the treatment of neurological-neurosurgical diseases by Charles E. Brown-Séquard and Jean-Martin Charcot
Cauterization is one of the oldest means of treatment. Pain, in general, is the most frequent indication for its use and it is still widely practiced in folk medicine and in primitive societies throughout the world. Unknown to many neurologists and neurosurgeons is the fact that Charles E. Brown-Séquard and Jean-Martin Charcot also used cauterization in their attempts to cure neurological diseases.
During my 12 years as a neurosurgeon in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I travelled to many Arab countries and met many cauterized patients and their healers. Beginning in 1989 I have built up an extensive collection of world literature relating to cauterization.
Greek and Arab medicine mentions the healing power of cautery for neurological-neurosurgical diseases. Cauterization continued throughout the ages and was practiced in the 19th century by Brown-Séquard and Charcot in the treatment of epilepsy, in paralysis and other neurological-neurosurgical diseases. Brown-Séquard and Charcot are famous for their achievements in neurology and their names are eponymous for their respective syndromes. I would like to bring to your attention the fact that both were using intensive cauterization to treat neurological and neurosurgical diseases.
When doing wrong was doing right and the impossible became the possible
In Nazi Germany, the mentally ill were forcibly sterilised and later killed, as were those with mental and physical handicaps, alcoholism and other disorders, as part of the drive to ensure “purity” of the Aryan race. Nursing as a profession is blighted by the lack of historical examination and accountability given to these policies (though medicine has addressed its role).
Some nurses participated willingly, while others refused. Many had been influenced by Nazi Party propaganda to believe that killing those of inferior race and intellect was the correct approach to ensure the on-going development of the Aryan races.
This aim of paper is to examine the history of these events and describe the propaganda and sociological forces which prevailed in nursing in Germany at that time. It will examine the methods used to kill the mentally ill, the handicapped, those with neurological disorders such as epilepsy and those who were considered “useless feeders.” The role of nurses, who saw killing as a legitimate part of their caring, will be described.
Symposium II: Euthanasia and Nazi Neuroscience
Animal electricity in the ‘long eighteenth century’ with special reference to the Edinburgh medical school
Coleridge, looking back at the end of the ‘long eighteenth century’, remarked that the whole of natural philosophy had been ‘electrified’ by advances in the understanding of electrical phenomena. In this paper I trace the way in which these advances affected contemporary ‘neurophysiology.’ At the beginning of the long eighteenth century, neurophysiology (in spite of Swammerdam’s and Glisson’s demonstrations to the contrary) was still understood largely in terms of hollow nerves and animal spirits. At the end of that period the researches of microscopists and electricians had convinced most medical men that the old understanding had to be replaced. Walsh, Patterson, John Hunter and others had described the electric organs of electric fish. Gray and Nollet had demonstrated that electricity was not merely static, but flowed. Franklin had alerted the world to atmospheric electricity. Galvani’s frog experiments were widely known. Volta had invented his ‘pile.’ But did ‘animal electricity’ exist and was it identical to the electricity physicists studied in the inanimate world? Was the brain a gland, as Malpighi’s researches seemed to confirm., and did it secrete electricity into the nervous system? The Monros (primus and secundus), William Cullen, Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, Erasmus Darwin, Luigi Rolando and François Baillarger all had their own ideas. This paper reviews these ‘long-eighteenth century’ controversies with special reference to the Edinburgh medical school and the interaction between neurophysiology and physics.
Symposium I: 18th and 19th Century Edinburgh Neuroscience
Making neuroscience research an interdisciplinary endeavour: The cognitive basis of Ludwig Edinger’s (1855-1918) institute at Frankfurt am Main
Ludwig Edinger is often perceived as a functional neuroanatomist who followed traditional lines of microscopical research. That he was a rather fascinating and many-sided figure around the change from late 19th- to early 20th-century neuroscience goes quite unnoticed. Edinger’s career and even his more straightforward notion of future neuroscientific progress stand at the edge of an old institutionalised research style, which developed to a multi-perspective and advanced scientific conduct. Being conceptually influenced by the Austrian neuromorphologist Heinrich Obersteiner (1847-1922) and his foundation of the ‘Neurological Institute’ at Vienna in 1882, Edinger established many scientific requirements and institutional settings that paved the way for a new type of neuroscience research.
After completion of his medical training that brought him in close working relationships with some great clinicians, such as Friedrich von Recklinghausen [1810-1879] and Adolf Kussmaul (1822-1902), Edinger settled as one of the first clinical neurologists (‘Nervenaerzte’) in the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1883. Here, he began to collaborate with the neuropathologist Carl Weigert (1845-1904) who worked at the independent research institute of the ‘Senckenbergische Anatomie.’ Since the year 1907, Edinger organised the equipment of a new laboratory for neuroscience research in the recently constructed ‘Senckenbergische Pathologie.’ The institution was later called the ‘Neurological Institute’, which was to be an interdisciplinary working-place for the study of the nervous system in comparative, morphological, experimental and clinical perspective. Even after Edinger’s death and under the austere circumstances of the Weimar Period, three serviceable divisions continued with fruitful research: the unit of comparative neurology (which had been inaugurated by Edinger himself), the unit of neuropsychology and neuropathology (Kurt Goldstein, 1865-1965), and an associated unit of paleoneurology (Tilly Edinger, 1897-1967).
Nevertheless, it was the vicinity of the clinic that used to attract Edinger’s attention and that lead him to conceive a successful model of neuroscience research, which joined together different scientific perspectives in a unique and modern way. Drawing on archival materials, correspondence and research publications, this paper will explore how prominent neuroscientist Edinger sought to conceive and reorganise the relation of basic, clinical and theoretical neuroscience.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the brain stem
Neither literary critics nor historians of science have acknowledged the extent to which Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) is indebted to late-Victorian neurology. My paper aims to rectify this neglect by examining Dracula alongside the work of late-nineteenth-century scientists like David Ferrier, John Burdon-Sanderson, Thomas Huxley and William Carpenter. At least two of these scientists (Ferrier and Burdon-Sanderson) are mentioned by name in the novel, while a third (Carpenter) is referenced indirectly when a central character discusses his widely acknowledged theory of unconscious cerebration. These references demonstrate that Stoker followed late-Victorian debates about localization of brain function, a fact overlooked by previous critics of Dracula.
This oversight is surprising in light of Stoker’s well-documented interest in science. Stoker came from a family of distinguished Irish physicians and obtained an M.A. in mathematics from Trinity College, Dublin. His personal library contained volumes on physiology, and his composition notes for Dracula, held at Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library, contain typewritten notes on somnambulism, trance states, and cranial injuries.
Stoker used his knowledge of neurology extensively in Dracula. The automatic behaviors practiced by Dracula and his vampiric minions, such as somnambulism and hypnotic trance states, reflect theories about reflex action postulated by Ferrier and Burdon-Sanderson. These scientists traced such automatic behavior to the brain stem, which they knew controlled unconscious processes like respiration, blood circulation, and digestion. These scientists also postulated that all human behavior was “determined” through the reflex action of the body and brain, or through environmental factors – a position that threatened to undermine entrenched beliefs in free will and the immortal, extra-corporeal soul. Thus, I ultimately argue that the automaton – the soulless being who was all body, purely mechanistic – was the bogey that both Draculaand late-nineteenth-century scientific articles unsuccessfully seek to exorcize.
Early to mid-twentieth century surgical attempts to alleviate 'athetosis'
Society has a long history of treating people with disabilities as outcasts. In the twentieth century, physicians investigated various methods of restoring people with disabilities to a ‘normal’ state. This presentation explores the attempts of early to mid-twentieth century neurosurgeons in alleviating the abnormal movement pattern called ‘athetosis’. Their attempts were severely hampered by poorly delineated nomenclature, inadequate understanding of the pathophysiology that causes hypertonicity, and inadequate control and reporting of clinical trials. The zeal of the neurosurgeons, coupled with these problems, resulted in poor clinical outcomes. The hopes and eventual disillusionment of surgery to relieve athetosis are illustrated in a case history of a young woman who underwent surgery in Minnesota in 1958.
Localizing the moral sense. How neuroscience already discovered the moral brain during the nineteenth and early twentieth century
Thanks to the MRI and PET hype, brain mappers actually no longer fear for talking about the moral brain. Neuronal circuits that are essential to the moral sentiments and social behaviour are discovered and the brains of psychopaths and criminals – the classical anti-heroes of morality – are scanned with enthusiasm.
However revolutionary these imaging techniques might be, the enterprise to localize an ethical centre or moral organ in the human brain is far from new. Although THE history of science paid much more attention to the biology of ethics (Darwin, Kropotkin), the moral brain was a recurrent theme in the works of neuroscientists during nineteenth and early twentieth century. From the phrenology era to the encephalitis epidemic in the 1920s a wide range of European and American scientists (neurologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists, and criminologists) speculated about and discussed the location of a genuine moral sense that could be found in the human cortex. Encouraged by medical discoveries and distressed by fearful phenomena like crime or moral insanity, even renowned neurologists such as Moritz Benedikt, Paul Flechsig, Arthur Van Gehuchten or Constantin von Monakow attempted to localize morality in the human brain.
In my talk I will present an overview of believers and disbelievers, their positions and arguments and offer an explanation for these historical attempts to localize human morality despite the overwhelmingly dismissive or sceptical comments from colleagues. Briefly, I wish to answer the question: “Why were some neuroscientists bold enough to formulate new ideas about a moral brain, although most were scared to do so?”
The complete bibliography of Sir Victor Horsley: a description and an assessment
Joel A. VILENSKY1, Pandy R. SINISH1,
James L. STONE2, and Sid GILMAN4
Sir Victor Horsley (1857-1916) is well-recognized as the father of modern neurological surgery for his many innovations in the field. It is therefore surprising that no one has heretofore compiled his complete bibliography. We did so utilizing citation listings from four sources: 1. the very incomplete bibliography in Paget’s biography; 2. historical articles; 3. the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, U.S. Army Series 1-5; and, 4. the “Indexes” of British Medical Journal and Lancet from 1880-1915. Horsley’s bibliography consists of 498 listings, which include 220 articles, 121 summaries, 91 pieces of correspondence, 51 discussions, 8 abstracts, 4 books and 3 obituaries. Subject classifications include neurosurgery/neuroscience (176), politics (118), general medicine (39), teaching/philosophy (34), thyroid (33), alcohol (19), laryngeal muscle neurology (16), gunshot wounds (12), rabies (10), microbiology (8), anesthesia (8), historical (5), asepsis (5), and miscellaneous (15). Horsley’s most prolific year was 1898, during which 35 publications appeared. 1907 was his least productive, with only 4 publications. His most prolific topic was neurology/neurosurgery, with 176 publications. Approximately 25% of his publications include collaborators, with Charles Beevor (1854-1908) being his longest (1887-1902) and most productive collaboration (21 publications).
The vision of William Porterfield
Nicholas J. WADE
Relatively little is known about William Porterfield (ca. 1696-1771) despite the fact that he was Librarian and Secretary of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh from 1722-1725 and President from 1748-1752. We know much more about his contributions to visual neuroscience. Between holding these posts he wrote two long articles on eye movements in the Edinburgh Medical Essays and Observations of 1737 and 1738. The first essay was addressed to what he called the external motions of the eye; he described the scanning movements of the eye the ways the eyes move together. The second was directed to its internal motions; he coined the term ‘accommodation’, examined it in an aphakic individual, and invented the optometer. However, their scope was broader than motions of the eye, since much more space was devoted to perception than to anatomy.
Twenty years later he published his two-volume Treatise of the Eye, the Manner and Phænomena of Vision. Volume 1 contains accounts of the gross anatomy of the eye and its attendant structures, the properties of light and image formation, theories of accommodation, and his experiments with the optometer. Volume 2 is on vision: it commences with further reflections on accommodation and progresses to myopia and presbyopia, variations of pupil size, and eye movements; it ends with the phenomena of vision - binocular single vision, colour, size, distance and shape perception, and motion. The Treatise presented a survey of the then contemporary knowledge of vision and the eye, and placed them in comparative and historical contexts.
Between writing the essays and the Treatise, Porterfield had a leg amputated; he provided an account of the phantom limb experiences and gave them a theoretical interpretation. This was the first self-report of the phenomenon by a physician.
Symposium I: 18th and 19th Century Edinburgh Neuroscience
Sculpting the brain: The corticospinal discoveries of Hans Kuypers
Marie Claire Y. de WIT, Bastiaan C. ter MEULEN, and Bart C. JACOBS
“The brain is not a painting, it’s a sculpture” – the 1963 Nobel Laureate so referred to the inhibitory capacities of the nervous system, giving shape to a rudimentary excitatory brain. The corticospinal (pyramidal) tracts allow for refined movement and maintenance of posture by selective inhibition of motor neurons. The anatomy of the corticospinal tracts has been known since the early 18th century descriptions by Mistichelli and Pourfour du Petit. Major contributions to corticospinal physiology were first made in the 1960s and 1970s. Henricus (Hans) Kuypers F.R.S. (1925-1989) was one of the pioneers within this field. Kuypers divided the descending motor projections into a medial and a lateral system based on the somatotopical terminations in the intermediate zone. He made us aware of the corticospinal differences between humans and animals. Here we reflect on his career and the impact he had on today’s neuroscience. We focus on Kuypers’ role as founder of the Department of Anatomy at Erasmus University (currently Erasmus-MC) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 1973.
De Anatomia Capitis Cerebri Nervorum by G.F. d’Acquapendente on the nervous system: A morphological study
Giorgio ZANCHIN and Raffaele DE CARO
Saint Mark’s Library of Venice houses a collection of more than 200 coloured anatomical paintings, subdivided in 8 volumes and entitled Ab Aquapendente Hieronymus Fabricius Volumina VIII Icones ad Anatomiam, seu Zootomiam pertinentes continentia, curante eodem Auctore. Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente (1533-1619) wanted this as a sort of “reference book” of anatomical coloured preparation, naturally depicted, to be placed alongside the anatomically dissected part or to be used temporarily when this was not available. In the third volume, De Anatomia Capitis Cerebri Nervorum, contains the only known illustrations by Fabrici regarding neuroanatomy. It consists of 21 tables (“Marciana, Rari 112, 1-21”), illustrating the meninges, the brain, the spinal cord, the cranial nerves, the spinal plexuses, and the nerves of the limbs with their blood vessels and muscles.
We propose, on this occasion, an analysis of the anatomical aspects of the four tables of the neurologic collection (112-1; 112-2; 112-5; 112-10). This work was realized by Fabrici as a document of high scientific value and of notable practical use: however, it should be noted that, until now, compared to aesthetic evaluations, paradoxically, neither descriptions of the morphological aspects nor analysis of the research contents of the tabulae pictae have ever been carried out. The merit goes to Fabrici, at the end of the sixteenth century, in a period in which the monochrome xylographies of Vesalius remained an example of unsurpassed beauty and naturalism, for having first established with his collection the importance of the use of colour in anatomical images. We believe that this important precedent stimulated the transition, over a few years, from paintings to the first attempts to print coloured reproductions.
ISHN 2005 Annual Meeting -- Abstracts
Last updated 7 June 2006
Last updated 7 June 2006