SciCombinator

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Journal: Journal of the history of the neurosciences

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The cerebellum is presently recognized as an important structure for cognitive, emotional, and behavioral integration and exerts such activities through its newer parts that belong to the cerebrocerebellar system. Two bundles relate the cerebral cortex to the cerebellum-an anterior (frontopontine) projection (Arnold’s bundle) and a posterior (temporo-occipito-parietal-pontine) projection (Türck’s bundle). The historical development and the controversies about the eponym of the bundle named after Türck is reviewed. Besides the researchers and authors that were in agreement with Meynert, of a tract he described, and apparently in a deliberate way named after Türck, others rose to contest the eponym, considering it a misnomer. Despite some controversies, this bundle deserves to maintain the name, Türck’s bundle, to honor the outstanding researcher that described it and named it after a notable colleague, possibly as a tribute, and also to mark the difficulties that surrounded this episode of neurological history.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Cerebellum, Names, Bundles

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During the 1790s, Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), who showed an early interest in many facets of natural philosophy and natural history, delved into the controversial subject of galvanism and animal electricity, hoping to shed light on the basic nature of the nerve force. He was motivated by his broad worldview, the experiments of Luigi Galvani, who favored animal electricity in more than a few specialized fishes, and the thinking of Alessandro Volta, who accepted specialized fish electricity but was not willing to generalize to other animals, thinking Galvani’s frog experiments flawed by his use of metals. Differing from many German Naturphilosophen, who shunned “violent” experiments, the newest instruments, and detailed measurement, Humboldt conducted thousands of galvanic experiments on animals and animal parts, as well as many on his own body, some of which caused him great pain. He interpreted his results as supporting some but not all of the claims made by both Galvani and Volta. Notably, because of certain negative findings and phenomenological differences, he remained skeptical about the intrinsic animal force being qualitatively identical to true electricity. Hence, he referred to a “galvanic force,” not animal electricity, in his letters and publications, a theoretical position he would abandon with Volta’s help early in the new century.

Concepts: Fish, Battery, Galvanic cell, Alexander von Humboldt, Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, Galvanism, Voltaic pile

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This article highlights the major reflections of ancient Greek mythology in modern neuroscience. An analysis of ancient Greek texts and medical literature using the MeSH term mythology was performed to identify mythological references pertaining to neuroscience. The findings are discussed in relation to etymology, early conceptualization of the nervous system structure and function, incipient characterization of neuropsychiatric disease, and philosophical stance to the practice of medicine in ancient Greece. The search identified numerous observations in clinical neurology (e.g., stroke, epilepsy, cognitive and movement disorders, sleep, pain and neuromuscular medicine, neuroinfectious diseases, headache, neuroophthalmology, and neurourology), neurosurgery, and psychiatry, as well as basic neurosciences (e.g., anatomy, embryology, genetics, pathology, and pharmacology) concealed in ancient myths. Beyond mere etymological allure and imaginative reflections in science, these fables envisage philosophical concepts that still tantalize our protean medical practice today.

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Burt Green Wilder (1841-1925) was a pioneering naturalist and anatomist who is historically known for his brain collection and for his contributions to neuroanatomical nomenclature. During his 42-year career, Wilder also used brain measurements for education and outreach, especially in regard to issues of race and gender. Additionally, Wilder influenced neuroscience education and acted as a scientific liaison to the public. For example, he designed early implementations of the sheep brain dissections that are still being conducted today, as well as likely conducted the first “Brain Day.” This article reviews each of these topics, as well as others, with the aim of accurately placing Wilder in the history of neuroscience as a naturalist and anatomist who, among other achievements, pioneered the use of brain measurements for education and outreach.

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In 1878, Dr. George Beard reported to other neurologists that in Maine there existed French-Canadian woodsmen who jumped when excited. Beard observed the phenomenon firsthand and his subsequent reports attracted the attention of Georges Gilles de la Tourette in France and other neurologists worldwide for a couple of decades. During the second half of the twentieth century, interest in the jumpers revived among neurologists, as some came forward with similar observations in different parts of Canada and the United States. This article compares and contrasts the scientific reports of the jumping syndrome with those of the popular press and highlights what they revealed about the perceived status of French-Canadian descendants.

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The ability to maintain human brain explants in tissue culture was a critical step in the use of these cells for the study of central nervous system disorders. Ross G. Harrison (1870-1959) was the first to successfully maintain frog medullary tissue in culture in 1907, but it took another 38 years before successful culture of human brain tissue was accomplished. One of the pioneers in this achievement was Mary Jane Hogue (1883-1962). Hogue was born into a Quaker family in 1883 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and received her undergraduate degree from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Research with the developmental biologist Theodor Boveri (1862-1915) in Würzburg, Germany, resulted in her Ph.D. (1909). Hogue transitioned from studying protozoa to the culture of human brain tissue in the 1940s and 1950s, when she was one of the first to culture cells from human fetal, infant, and adult brain explants. We review Hogue’s pioneering contributions to the study of human brain cells in culture, her putative identification of progenitor neuroblast and/or glioblast cells, and her use of the cultures to study the cytopathogenic effects of poliovirus. We also put Hogue’s work in perspective by discussing how other women pioneers in tissue culture influenced Hogue and her research.

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This article shows that the academic and research careers of Henry Herbert Donaldson (1857-1938) were directed to provide basic information about the growth of the vertebrate nervous system and to provide standards and the means to make such research efficient. He earned the reputation of making the albino rat a standard laboratory animal. His academic career began when he was an undergraduate at Yale University in 1875 and concluded with his death as Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology of the University of Pennsylvania in 1938. During that period, pivotal experiences occurred, including research in physiological chemistry with Chittenden at the Sheffield School at Yale, graduate study at Johns Hopkins University, postgraduate study in Europe, and professorial positions at Clark University and the University of Chicago. It was at Johns Hopkins University that Donaldson learned about the need for physiological, anatomical, and psychophysical research and about the techniques to allow such research. It was at Clark University that he had first-hand and detailed experience with the anatomy of the brain of a deaf-blind-mute woman, as he attempted to correlate her sensory deficits with her brain development. It was at Clark University that he clearly recognized the need for standardization in neurological research. At the University of Chicago, he developed administrative skills and began a coordinated research effort to delimit the growth of the nervous system. It was at Chicago that he learned that the albino rat could be a reasonable subject for such research. It was also at Chicago that he was able to formulate ideas about the future organizational needs of human neuroanatomy. It was at the Wistar Institute that his research program and his professional career matured. He organized a research effort to elucidate the growth of the nervous system. He contributed to the coordination of neurological research in the United States and Europe. It was while at the Wistar Institute that he became well-known for making the albino rat a standard laboratory mammal-a convenient living material for research.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Hypothalamus, Brain, Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Association of American Universities, Yale University

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Henry Herbert Donaldson (1857-1938) was a leader in neurological research in the United States for several decades, beginning about 1890. A detailed account of three of his earliest publications shows the neuroanatomical procedures involved in the study of the relation of brain and intelligence during the late-nineteenth-century in America. Two of the articles, published in September 1890 and December 1891, were titled, “Anatomical Observations on the Brain and Several Sense-Organs of the Blind Deaf-Mute, Laura Dewy Bridgman (1829-1889)”; the third, published in August 1892, used the information from the first two to delimit the extent of the visual processing area of the human cortex. Donaldson’s procedures included brain cuttings and measures of macroscopic brain structures, histology of cellular structures, attempts to relate macroscopic brain structures with brain functions, data corrections, estimations, comparisons, and statistics. These procedures provide a view of the relative thoroughness, accuracy, and comparability of the various neuroanatomical techniques in use at that time and of Donaldson’s implementation of the techniques. Donaldson’s brain cutting techniques were much more comparable than his measurement techniques. The latter could be quite precise, but they were fraught with lack of standardized procedures that made corrections and estimations necessary when making data comparisons across studies. Donaldson emphasized these incompatibilities, implying a need for standardization. Statistical procedures were the least thorough and effective. His, and the field’s, total complement of statistical techniques consisted of mean and range, which severely limited his ability to make complicated assessments. This limitation was not necessarily supplemented by stringent control group comparisons.

Concepts: Medicine, Neuroanatomy, Brain, Statistics, United States, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Neurology

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This study focuses on two outstanding psychiatrists: the Frenchman Valentin Magnan (1835-1916) and the Russian Sergey Korsakov (1854-1900). Their international renown is primarily associated with their investigations into health consequences of alcohol consumption; they were pioneers in this field, and happened to know each other well. The similarities and differences are shown in social and scientific approaches adopted by these two scientists. In his work, Magnan focused mainly on absinthe and epilepsy; he considered alcoholism to be a hereditary mental disorder. Korsakov, after a period of work in Paris under Magnan’s guidance, represented a more modern generation and was advancing fundamental ideas on the nature of psychoses and merging clinical features, somatic, psychological, and social factors. Although Magnan has practically disappeared from the current literature on alcoholism, Korsakov is still clearly present today.

Concepts: Alcohol, Alcoholism, Sociology, Alcohol abuse, Clinical psychology, Schizophrenia, Psychiatry, Vodka

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In 1934, Gabrielle Lévy died at the age of 48. She became well known for an article she published on a hereditary polyneuropathy in cooperation with Gustav Roussy, resulting in the eponym Roussy-Lévy syndrome. Not much is known about this extraordinary neurologist/neuropathologist. Her family declared that she died from the disease she was studying. She was a pupil of Pierre Marie, with whom she worked at the Salpêtrière in Paris and wrote on war neurology. In cooperation with Marie, she published a number of articles on postencephalitic syndromes, which also became the subject of her 1922 thesis. Three years later, she became associate physician at the Paul-Brousse Hospital in Paris, where the study of brain tumors became one of the subjects of her scientific work. Remarkably, Lévy was first author in a few of her many articles, although Roussy confirmed that she often initiated the study and even wrote the main part. In this article her career is considered in the context of the struggle of women physicians to improve their position during the early-twentieth century. She probably died from a brain tumor or a postencephalitic syndrome.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Brain, Oncology, Brain tumor, Magnetic resonance imaging, Marie Curie, Medicine in medieval Islam