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Cerebral localization in the eighteenth century--an overview.
J Hist Neurosci. 2009 Jul; 18(3):248-53.JH

Abstract

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, attempts to localize cerebral functions generated a wide range of different ideas. Ancient theories and their revisions stood next to new doctrines; anatomical, pathological, and surgical observations stood beside philosophical conjectures or conclusions from physiological experiments. Echoing Descartes and Willis, many scholars placed the sensorium commune in structures such as corpus callosum, cerebellum, or meninges. Since the explanatory power of these ideas was limited, a strictly holistic approach gained momentum around 1750. The key neurophysiological concept of the second half of the eighteenth century was Haller's doctrine of the equipotentiality of all cerebral structures including the cortex. However, shortly before 1800, one final effort to reconcile philosophy and science was made. The anatomist Samuel Thomas Soemmerring contended that ventricular fluid was the immediate organ of the soul. The refutation of this hypothesis and the rise of Gall's doctrine mark the end of the premodern era of cerebral localization. This paper reconstructs the era's principle arguments and contemporary experiments. It demonstrates that some current controversies regarding the mind-body problem are repetitions of eighteenth-century neuro-philosophical debates.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Institute for the History of Medicine and Medical Ethics, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany. ajg02@rrz.uni-koeln.de

Pub Type(s)

Historical Article
Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

20183204

Citation

Karenberg, Axel. "Cerebral Localization in the Eighteenth Century--an Overview." Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, vol. 18, no. 3, 2009, pp. 248-53.
Karenberg A. Cerebral localization in the eighteenth century--an overview. J Hist Neurosci. 2009;18(3):248-53.
Karenberg, A. (2009). Cerebral localization in the eighteenth century--an overview. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 18(3), 248-53. https://doi.org/10.1080/09647040802026027
Karenberg A. Cerebral Localization in the Eighteenth Century--an Overview. J Hist Neurosci. 2009;18(3):248-53. PubMed PMID: 20183204.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Cerebral localization in the eighteenth century--an overview. A1 - Karenberg,Axel, PY - 2010/2/26/entrez PY - 2010/2/26/pubmed PY - 2010/6/19/medline SP - 248 EP - 53 JF - Journal of the history of the neurosciences JO - J Hist Neurosci VL - 18 IS - 3 N2 - At the beginning of the eighteenth century, attempts to localize cerebral functions generated a wide range of different ideas. Ancient theories and their revisions stood next to new doctrines; anatomical, pathological, and surgical observations stood beside philosophical conjectures or conclusions from physiological experiments. Echoing Descartes and Willis, many scholars placed the sensorium commune in structures such as corpus callosum, cerebellum, or meninges. Since the explanatory power of these ideas was limited, a strictly holistic approach gained momentum around 1750. The key neurophysiological concept of the second half of the eighteenth century was Haller's doctrine of the equipotentiality of all cerebral structures including the cortex. However, shortly before 1800, one final effort to reconcile philosophy and science was made. The anatomist Samuel Thomas Soemmerring contended that ventricular fluid was the immediate organ of the soul. The refutation of this hypothesis and the rise of Gall's doctrine mark the end of the premodern era of cerebral localization. This paper reconstructs the era's principle arguments and contemporary experiments. It demonstrates that some current controversies regarding the mind-body problem are repetitions of eighteenth-century neuro-philosophical debates. SN - 1744-5213 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20183204/Cerebral_localization_in_the_eighteenth_century__an_overview_ L2 - http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09647040802026027 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -