Wilbrand's ideas of the visual cortex

Christian BAUMANN
Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany
Christian.Baumann AT physiologie.med.uni-giessen.de

Hermann Wilbrand (1851-1935) is considered one of the founders of neuro-opthalmology. He is best known for the monumental handbook, Die Neurologie des Auges (Wilbrand and Saenger, 1898-1922). Prior to this encyclopedic work, Wilbrand published three clinical monographs on the diagnosis of brain diseases with the help of ophthalmological examinations (Wilbrand 1881, 1884, 1890). But Wilbrand not only treated clinical aspects but also supplied evidence for the localization of the optical center in the calcarine fissure of the occipital cortex. Moreover, he worked out theories of the organization of the visual cortex which, as he postulated, must contain subdivisions corresponding to the qualities of visual sensation such as light, form, and color. Wilbrand also considered the binocular input of the visual cortex and put forward a detailed scheme of the projection of the two retinae to the occipital cortex which anticipated modern concepts of ocular dominance columns. His ideas are critically reviewed in the light of current opinions about his topics.


  1. Wilbrand, H.: Über Hemianopsie und ihr Verhältniss zur topischen Diagnose der Gehirnkrankheiten, Berlin 1881
  2. Wilbrand, H.: Ophthalmiatrische Beiträge zur Diagnostik der Gehirn-Krankheiten, Wiesbaden, 1884
  3. Wilbrand, H.: Die hemianopischen Gesichtsfeld-Formen und das optische Wahrnehmungszentrum, Wiesbaden, 1890
  4. Wilbrand, H. and Saenger, A.: Die Neurologie des Auges. 9 Vols., Wiesbaden 1898-1922

Session VII.  German Neuroscience / Germans and the Neurosciences
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 4:30 - 5:00 pm

12th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences   (ISHN)
Los Angeles, California, USA, 19-23 June 2007