SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of the history of the neurosciences

27

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

27

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

0

The source of the human voice is obscured from view. The development of the laryngoscope in the late 1850s provided the potential to see the action of the vocal folds during speaking for the first time. This new instrument materially contributed to the understanding of vocal fold neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuropathology. The laryngoscope led to elaborated understanding of disorders that previously were determined by changes in sound. The objective of this paper is to detail the consequences of this novel visualization of the larynx, and to trace how it aided in the development of understanding of the movements of the vocal folds. This is demonstrated through an examination of the activities and practices of a group of London clinicians in the second half of the nineteenth century.

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The metallick Tractors were patented by Elisha Perkins, a Connecticut physician, in 1796, for the treatment of various ailments, particularly those associated with pain. They were subsequently rapidly and widely disseminated on the basis of testimonials and aggressive marketing tactics. Dissemination was facilitated by endorsements from prominent physicians, politicians, and clergy, by quasi-theoretical explanations of efficacy based on then-current experiments of Galvani and others, and by the apparent simplicity and safety of the procedure. Abandonment of this ineffective therapy was later prompted by the application of blinded placebo-controlled trials using sham devices.

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From 1799 to 1801, with the instigation of John Haygarth, physicians in England evaluated the claims of Elisha and Benjamin Perkins that their patented “metallic tractors” could cure a wide variety of disorders. Previous therapies were typically judged based on experience and authority, whereas Perkinism was evaluated using a series of clinical trials of varying methodological sophistication, most employing sham instruments (all but those involving infants or horses), with a variety of trial designs, inconsistent use of contemporary controls, and different approaches to blinding subjects to the treatment administered. Haygarth and his colleagues collectively demonstrated that tractors and sham instruments produced equivalent effects in adults, and, by inference, that the tractors had no special therapeutic properties. Other trials using only genuine tractors demonstrated no effects in infants and horses, subjects who could not reasonably be influenced by suggestion and the imagination. These collective results provided strong support for the rival hypothesis that the observed effects were due to suggestion and the imagination of the subjects. Despite fallacy-laden counterattacks and counterarguments from Benjamin Perkins and his supporters, the trials eroded support for this therapy and led to abandonment of the “Metallic Practice” as a treatment in Britain and elsewhere.

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Trephines and trepanning date to ancient times, but a “modern” form of instruments was codified by the seventeenth century. This did not preclude efforts to “improve” the trephine in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Surgeons and instrument makers in Britain (Jardine and Savigny), France (Thomson and Charrière), and America (Galt and Otto & Reynders) endeavored to make the trephine safer and more precise. In exploring their interactions, this presentation shows the evolving role of the instrument makers not only as fabricators of tools, but as creative design collaborators of surgeons and physicians.

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This study describes the life and work of early-twentieth-century German scientist Korbinian Brodmann (1868-1918). His medical training at universities in Munich, Würzburg, Berlin, and Freiburg and his further education are illustrated. His early Leipzig career and cooperation with brain researchers Oskar and Cécile Vogt in Berlin are portrayed, as are his contributions to a localization theory of the cerebral cortex-namely, Brodmann’s cytoarchitectonic approach-and the invention of a cortex area nomenclature, further developed until the beginning of World War I. His Tübingen professorship and being nominated to manage a major department of Emil Kraepelin’s Munich research unit represent further aspects of this study, a promising career ahead, harshly interrupted by an early and unexpected death.

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Neurocysticercosis, or brain infestation with the larval stage of Taenia solium, is the most common risk factor for epilepsy in many endemic regions of the world. Hardly any cases are seen in Western developed countries, including Britain. However, a sizeable number (n = 450) was seen among British soldiers returning from deputation to India, then a British colony, first reported by Col. MacArthur at the Queen Alexandria Military Hospital in 1931. Here, we review the influence of the perceptive observations of British Army medics on the understanding of the parasitic disorder. The majority of these people presented with epilepsy. Among the contributions of the army medics were establishing the diagnosis, initially by histological examination of subcutaneous and muscular infestation, and later by radiography, clarifying the prognosis and the role of medical and surgical treatments and uncovering the close relationship between the larval (cysticercosis) and adult (intestinal tapeworm) stages of T. solium.

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Experiences following stimulation of the senses have been recorded for millennia, and they could be related to the gross anatomy of the sense organs. Examination of their microanatomy was to await the development of achromatic microscopes in the early nineteenth century. Among the microscopic structures that were isolated and described were specialized sensory cells, called receptors, and they could be related to the stimuli that excited them. Those located in well-defined sense organs (like the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue) were named on the basis of their morphology, whereas the receptors in or beneath the surface of the skin were generally named after those who first described them. Illustrations of early representations of sensory receptors are combined with “perceptual portraits” of the microanatomists who described them.

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Different models of emotional lateralization, advanced since the first clinical observations raised this issue, will be reviewed following their historical progression. The clinical investigations that have suggested a general dominance of the right hemisphere for all kinds of emotions and the experimental studies that have proposed a different hemispheric specialization for positive vs. negative emotions (valence hypothesis) or for approach vs. withdrawal tendencies (motivational hypothesis) will be reviewed first and extensively. This historical review will be followed by a short discussion of recent anatomo-clinical and activation studies that have investigated (a) emotional and behavioral disorders of patients with asymmetrical forms of fronto-temporal degeneration and (b) laterality effects in specific brain structures (amygdala, ventro-medial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula) playing a critical role in different components of emotions. Overall, these studies support the hypothesis of a right hemisphere dominance for all components of the emotional system.