The French contribution to the discovery of the central area.Neurochirurgie. 1999 Sep; 45(3):208-13.N
French scientists in the 18th century and 19th century helped shape our modern conception of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. One of the fruits of this labor was the discovery of the central area. In 1786, Vicq d'Azyr published a treatise which illustrated the central area for the first time. Forty years later Rolando, in Turin, also illustrated the central area and recognized Vicq d'Azyr's priority. However, Leuret named the central sulcus for Rolando. Gall recognized the physiological importance of the cortex and its fixed gyral pattern, but the wild claims of phrenology prevented most of the scientific community from accepting his real contribution. Thirty-three years after Gall's death, Broca described his famous patient Leborgne with aphémie (aphasia) which spurred an explosion of research in cortical function and cerebral localization. Eminent French scientists like Gratiolet and Leuret were instrumental in demonstrating the fixed pattern of the convolutions and systematizing the study of the cortex in man and lower animals.