12th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Los Angeles, California, USA
19 - 23 June 2007

Go to Meeting Program

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

Defining a disease under pressure: medicine responds to the 1918-1928 encephalitis lethargica outbreak

Department of Biology, Husson College, Bangor, Maine, USA
brownt AT fc.husson.edu

In the shadow of the 1918 pandemic flu, a smaller but far more perplexing epidemic raged.  While previous Encephalitis Lethargica (EL) outbreaks probably occurred, the 1918-1928 outbreak was the first to be widely described.  During this epidemic, more than 900 papers were written in an effort to understand a “new” disease.  This literature comprised the thoughts of a full spectrum of medical talent, from greats like Von Economo and Kinner Wilson to small town general practitioners.

I will show that many doubtful cases were labeled EL in the heat of the epidemic and that some cases went unrecognized and were misdiagnosed as influenza. Depending on the location of the lesions, the symptoms of EL resemble those of many other neurological diseases, brain infections, and even trauma. Conversely, the other causes of lesions resemble EL. The polymorphic nature of the symptoms of EL allowed it to serve as a Rorschach onto which the era’s neurologists projected their diagnostic biases.

In the last years of the 1918-1928 epidemic, a new condition emerged that became known as Post-Encephalitic Parkinson’s disease (PEP). PEP is a Parkinson’s-like condition that develops following EL. Since PEP patients are much younger than those who develop Parkinson’s disease from other causes, PEP provides a reliable tool for retrospectively identifying EL patients. The younger the patient the more certain we can be that we have a case of PEP. Consequently, this allows us to distinguish between EL and patients with other diseases.  

My study illuminates the neurological community’s decision-making under pressure and provides a new perspective on the relation between EL and other diseases including the flu.

Symposium.  Encephalitis Lethargica
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 9:30 - 11:15 am

"Induced nervous sleep or experimental hypnotism": an unpublished text from Dr. Manuel Martinez Solórzano (Mexico, 1889)

1Academic Section of the History of Psychiatry, Mexican Psychiatry Association, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico.  nocup AT hotmail.com
2"José Torres Orozco" Psychiatric Hospital at Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico.  rubbucio AT hotmail.com

On August 20th, 1889, in the Internal Pathology class, at the Medical School of Morelia, Mexico, a young student of 4th year: Manuel Martínez Solórzano, read the dissertation titled “Induced nervous sleep or experimental hypnotism". In this document of 83 hand-written pages, signed the 8th of previous July, (as it is indicated by its author), trying to continue with the study of Hysteria phenomenon, he assumes the task of extending, and explaining the scientific nature of Experimental Hypnotism in agreement with the theories exposed years ago by Jean-Martin Charcot and Hyppolyte Bernheim, distinguishing it, according to his words, "from the hypnotism of hall, fair, and prestidigitation, that is nothing different from the so-called animal magnetism of the prattlers". His work is divided into six sections as well, and they’re about the historical origin of hypnotism, the proven facts that confirm its true existence, the procedures to induce it, its definition and phases involving and integrating the whole procedure, phenomenon of hypnotism itself, and finally its physiology. Although publications on this subject were not new in the country, because in 1887, Labadie had published the article: "Contribution for the study of hypnotism in Mexico", the great quality and deep seriousness of the work of Martinez Solórzano, that in addition remarks his own experience with this technique, surpasses by much to any other work of the time.

By unknown circumstances this paper was not published at that time and has remained unpublished until now. Thus, the document acquires great historical value, since it allows us to analyze the effects that had in our country, (strongly influenced by the French medicine), the postulates which made famous the creator of Neurology as science, in his useless search to find, first of all, the anatomopathological substrate of Hysteria and, later on, his goal to cause the hysterical symptoms by means of suggestion or hypnosis in normal people; and in hystericals, facing lack of a demonstrable structural injury, to alleviate the symptoms. He made an effort to grant a scientific connotation (neurophysiological) to his procedure. The inform Charcot gave to the Academy of Sciences in 1882, strongly attracted the attention of Bernheim, that soon was against Charcot, arguing that the hypnosis was not exclusive to hysteria, and mentioned that the modification of consciousness state was possible to obtain in any individual by suggestion at wide-awake status, "Which implied to leave hypnosis. To this method he gave the name of Psychotherapy ".

Shortly before dying, Charcot had the strength to express the necessity o f "May it be known: [that] hysteria is a psychical disease of absolute way". Later to his decease, Charcot was acknowledged by his contributions in the medical and neurological field, forgetting, for a long time, his works on hypnosis and hysteria. Despite his errors, and in accordance to Pérez-Rincón, "the Charcotian conception of hysteria gave light to psychoanalysis" being "psychologization of the hysterical phenomenon the inheritance that he left to [Pierre] Janet and [Sigmund] Freud". On the other hand, the works of Bernheim and Liébeault, creators of the Psychological School of Nancy, mainly the publications of Bernheim, were prior to modern psychosomatic medicine, and using a different hypnotic method from the one used at La Salpêtrière hospital, they treated this kind of diseases. Could this be the answer to the darkness that covered the writing of Martinez Solórzano? Seeing himself disappointed by the failure of the theories he defended with erudite vehemence at the historical Colegio de San Nicolás (or Civil Hospital), where the Medical School was lodged?

Martinez Solórzano (1862-1924) had an extraordinary scientific and political career, reaching his fame beyond Mexican borders. He is remembered as a great teacher, botanist and naturalist. He never published, and it’s never known of another medical work of his again.


  1. MARTÍNEZ SOLÓRZANO, M. (1889). El Sueño nervioso provocado o hipnotismo experimental. Manuscrito inédito de 83 pp. Fotocopia cortesía del Mtro. José Napoleón Guzmán Ávila de la Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo.
  2. LABADIE, F. (1887). Contribución para el estudio del hipnotismo en México. Gac Med Mex, XXII(21): 450-461.
  3. PÉREZ-RINCÓN, H. (1998). El teatro de las histéricas. De cómo Charcot descubrió, entre otras cosas, que también había histéricos. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica (Colección: La ciencia para todos/162), 125 pp.

Session XI.  Trance and Hypnosis
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 2:00 - 2:30 pm

How to get thrown out of The Founders of Neurology

Stephen CASPER
University College London, UK; and Program in the History of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
s.casper AT ucl.ac.uk

The volume The Founders of Neurology first appeared in 1953. Seventeen years later, its publishers, Charles C Thomas, released a revised and enlarged edition to positive acclaim. Noting that this 1970 edition had thirty-four new biographies, including some of contemporaries left out of the original, one reviewer writing for Medical History observed, “Ancestor worship can thus be said to be a part of neurology, and for this reason…this collection of biographical essays is a valuable addition to the neurologist’s library.” Although his comments reflected the new hardback’s content, the reviewer missed a crucial distinction between the two volumes: some faces that had appeared in the first edition were now missing from the second.

Numerous scholars have noted the polemical nature of biographical and commemorative collections, and some allege that the raison d’etre for such works is the construction of a professional mythology or a social ideology. Using textual analysis, correspondence, publishing house records, and other supporting archival documentation, this paper will examine the 1970 edition’s origins and consider its multiple layers. In so doing, it will tease out the edition’s invented traditions, while also identifying its social, political, and cultural nuances. What emerges is a story about how the making of the second edition was more than just the invention of a mythology; it was also a reaffirming of a global consensus about neurology’s professional identity – past, present, and future.

Session VIII.  Sources (Books and Brains)
Friday, 22 June 2007, 9:30 - 10:00 am

Edward Tyson: the journey from mind to matter

Christine CHARVET
Center for Learning and Memory, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, USA
ccharvet AT uci.edu

In seventeenth century England, apes were considered to be degenerate forms of men and were sometimes referred to as pygmies. Edward Tyson, (1650-1708) an English physician, initiated a change in this view. At the end of the seventeenth century, Tyson acquired a ‘pygmy’ from Angola, studied its behavior and compared its anatomy with that of a monkey and a man. He showed that this ‘pygmy,’ which we now know was a juvenile chimpanzee, was of a distinct species that closely resembled humans.

Tyson introduced the concept of gradation of species and thus discovered one of the main features of evolutionary theory. As was consistent with the widely accepted views of his time, Tyson believed that organisms were created according to God’s design, species were fixed in time and higher mental faculties were endowed by God rather than by the physical substance of the brain. Tyson never openly contradicted these assumptions.

However, he portrayed these assumptions as inconsistent with his study of the pygmy. There is evidence to suggest that Tyson questioned the dogma that human mental faculty was of immaterial origin. Furthermore, his human-like portrayal of the ‘pygmy’ influenced later naturalists’ views on primates and human evolution. Later naturalists’ study of Tyson’s work led them to openly question the assumptions that Tyson implicitly doubted and, thus, Tyson’s treatise planted the seeds necessary for the emergence of evolutionary thought.

Poster Session
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 9:30 - 10:30 am

A signal achievement: Charles D. Dawson's signal averaging technique and the discovery of brainstem evoked responses

Edward J. FINE1,2, Linda A. LOHR3 and Agnes SUPALA2,4
1Neurology, Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, Buffalo, New York, USA.  efine AT buffalo.edu
2Department of Neurology, School of Medicine and Allied Health, State University of New York, Buffalo, USA.
3Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection, Health Sciences Library, State University of New York, Buffalo, USA.  lalohr AT buffalo.edu
4Jacobs Neurological Institute, Buffalo General Hospital, New York, USA.  asupala AT buffalo.edu

Evoked responses are electrical potentials from brain generated by specific stimuli to peripheral or cranial nerves. Richard Caton (1842-1926) is credited as the discoverer of somatosensory evoked responses. In 1875 Caton observed fluctuations of a galvanometer by electrical currents from exposed dog cortex in response to stimulation of its hind paw. He lacked equipment to record these responses.

Evoked potentials from human scalp were difficult to extract from higher voltage, oscillating cortical EEG noise. In 1947 Charles Dawson (1912-1983) developed the superimposition technique that improved signal to noise ratio of somatosensory evoked responses (SER). Dawson time-locked stimulation of median nerves to his oscilloscope’s sweeps. Electrode pairs placed on human scalp, overlying parietal lobes, picked up responses to repetitive electric stimuli of median nerves that were amplified and displayed on a storage oscilloscope screen. Dawson’s photograph of multiple superimposed SERs showed a first positive peak latency at 28 ms.

In 1954 Dawson developed the signal averager (SA). The SA consisted of a rotating switch that fed each individual scalp response to a single median nerve stimulus into one of 62 condensers every .1 seconds. The SA serially discharged each condenser into an amplifier connected to a storage oscilloscope. Dawson noted that the superimposed SER had a positive latency of 28 ms. To prove that the SA could eliminate brain activity noise not related to the stimulus, Dawson fed random electronic noise mixed with square wave signals into the averager, which removed the noise. Dawson’s median SERs resemble modern responses.

Dawson’s averaging technique allowed Jewett and Williston to record the minute auditory response from human scalp electrodes in 1970. Dawson should be considered the founder of human evoked potentials, because his averaging technique extracted time-locked evoked responses from higher amplitude cortical EEG noise.

Supported in part by local funds, Buffalo Veterans' Administration Medical Center.

Session I.  Instrumentation and Laboratory Sciences
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 11:00 - 11:30 am

Edward Bancroft and the "torporific" eels of Surinam

Stanley FINGER
Department of Psychology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
sfinger AT wustl.edu

Edward Bancroft (1744-1821) is often remembered for two things: (1) for acting as secretary to Franklin and the American commissioners in France during the War for Independence, and (2) because being a double agent, spying for the British on the Americans and the Americans on the British.

Prior to becoming a spy, Bancroft studied medicine in Connecticut. Before completing his medical apprenticeship, he ran off to Dutch Guiana (Surinam), where he worked as a medical assistant and collected material for a book on the area, including its flora and fauna. He remained in Surinam from 1763 to 1766 and then settled in London, where he published his descriptive book in 1769, after more medical training under Pitcairn at St. Bartholomews.

One of the sections in An Essay on the Natural History of Guiana was on the river eels, which had been briefly described by La Condamine and by a few of the Dutch who had been in the area. Yet the eel was still not well known in Europe when Bancroft vividly wrote about its powerful shocks and gave reasons to believe that they must be electrical, not mechanical.

During the 1770s, John Walsh confirmed Bancroft's ideas, putting to rest the idea that shocks from electric fish are mechanical. Walsh, like Bancroft, was a member of the Royal Society, where Benjamin Franklin actively encouraged others to conduct experiments on electricity (both from machines and the heavens), and, in Walsh's case, on forces seemingly electrical (i.e., from certain fish). The work of Bancroft, Walsh, and others in Franklin's circle led to a new neurophysiology by showing that animals could, in fact, produce electricity. Franklin would never learn that the New Englander who had piqued his interest in animal electricity was already being paid to spy on his activities.

Session II.  Natural History
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 2:00 - 2:30 pm

Pandemic influenza 1918 and encephalitis lethargica: one, two or more culprits?

Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Sydney, NSW, Australia
pfoley AT unsw.edu.au

The etiology of encephalitis lethargica was controversial during the major epidemic of 1918-1926. Streptococcal infection, viral infection (including herpes and poliomyelitis) and other explanations were proposed for the sudden emergence of this disorder. The issue of whether it was causally linked to the influenza pandemic which occurred at about the same time was also hotly debated. By 1930 encephalitis lethargica was no longer routinely diagnosed and interest in the disorder waned, so that the causal agent remains unidentified. The influenza virus, on the other hand, was identified in 1930, effectively ending discussions regarding the etiology of influenza. A closer examination of the medical literature of the period suggests, however, that attributing the 1918/19 influenza solely to the influenza virus may be an oversimplification of this extraordinary pandemic. This has serious consequences for planning for future influenza epidemics.

Symposium.  Encephalitis Lethargica
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 9:30 - 11:15 am

Hodgkin-Huxley and the ionic theory of nerve action

Robert G. FRANK, Jr.
Departments of Neurobiology and History, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
rfrankj AT ucla.edu

The publication in 1949, by the young Cambridge physiologists Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley, of the ‘sodium hypothesis’ of the action potential in nerve and muscle was a pivotal event in 20th-century fundamental neuroscience. In this paper I use interviews with participants (especially Hodgkin) and unpublished correspondence (especially of Hodgkin, Bernard Katz, and the American K.C. Cole), as well as published autobiographies and the scientific papers, to reconstruct the experimental work and theorizing c. 1936-1949 that led to the sodium hypothesis.

My central figure is Hodgkin, and I emphasize especially the crucial role played by the introduction of invertebrate single-axon preparations, such as crab nerve and the squid giant axon in 1936. The SGA made possible the discovery by Cole in 1938 at Woods Hole, recording from external electrodes, that the passage of the nerve impulse coincided with a decrease in membrane impedance. Cole’s visiting collaborator there, Hodgkin, took the SGA preparation back to England. At the Plymouth marine laboratory in 1939, using an elegant experimental apparatus designed in large part by his Trinity College friend, Huxley, they were able to insert an internal electrode into the SGA. Hodgkin and Huxley were surprised to find that the newly discovered decrease in membrane resistance, in both lobster and squid axons during activity, not only caused the membrane potential to rise from -55 mV to 0 (as predicted by longstanding theory), but also to ‘overshoot’, becoming positive some 40-50 mV—a puzzling anomaly. As Hodgkin and Huxley returned c. 1944 to physiology after war research, they focused on possible ion flows or membrane changes that might explain such an anomaly. They were aided materially by accurate assays of Na+ and K+ concentrations in squid axoplasm done by Burr Steinbach at Woods Hole in 1943. However, it was a key hint by Katz in late 1946, that a single crab fiber became unexcitable in isotonic dextrose, which led Hodgkin definitively to a sodium hypothesis. In the ‘squid summers’ of 1947 and 1948 at Plymouth, working with both Katz and Huxley, he got crucial evidence that the action potential is caused by precisely timed and voltage-dependent flows, first of Na+ inwards, and then of K+ outwards. This ionic hypothesis was rapidly accepted and became the theoretical and experimental model on which many important new explanations of nerve activity were based.

Session I.  Instrumentation and Laboratory Sciences
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 12:00 - 12:30 pm

Wendell J.S. Krieg (1906-1997) and his concepts of "electroneuroprosthesis" in 1949

Department of Anatomy, The University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississipi, USA
dhaines AT anatomy.umsmed.edu

After less than 20 years of experimental work on the nervous system Wendell Krieg proposed, in 1949, the founding of an Institute dedicated to the study of human stereotaxy and the development of neural prosthetic devices. His formal proposal, submitted to the Dean of the School of Medicine at Northwestern, was far-reaching, imaginative, and detailed. It included the perfecting of stereotaxic methods and surgery on humans, a “brain scanner”, plans for a hospital, and, of specific interest here, plans for auditory, visual, and motor neural protheses.

Krieg’s overall proposal described visual, auditory, and motor prostheses that, when developed, would allow patients to regain an acceptable level of function. He described two potential visual devices. The first was one that utilized sets of photosensitive metals which, when stimulated, would create and electrical current that could activate selected regions of the visual cortex. The second was based on the general principal of the TV camera/receiver; this device would scan the environment and selectively activate visual cortical areas. His concept of an auditory prosthetic device was based on the idea that different tones in the environment could be turned into electrical impulses of varying intensities and frequency, relayed to the auditory cortex, and the cortex activated. Krieg believed that this would provide the deaf with the basic ability to hear, and recognize, sounds. The motor device was markedly similar to the current experimental approach to reestablish motor function in the neurologically compromised patient. Stimulating electrodes would be placed on muscles (or on their motor points) and activated in a sequence that would create a sequence of muscle contractions that would mimic purposeful movement. He even envisioned a “plastic stocking-like device” to position electrodes.

This presentation will consider, and illustrate, Krieg’s concepts and ideas, their innovative nature, and will include his original illustrations.

Session I.  Instrumentation and Laboratory Sciences
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 10:30 - 11:00 am

Charlton Bastian and Hughlings Jackson: four language centers or none?

Departments of Health Research a& Policy and of Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
vhenderson AT stanford.edu

The National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic, established at Queen Square in 1860, holds a special place in the history of neurology. Two early members of the Queen Square staff, Hughlings Jackson (1835–1911) and Charlton Bastian (1837–1915) developed strong interests in aphasia in the years after Paul Broca’s epochal reports on the loss of articulate language from lesions of the frontal lobe. Their views could scarcely have differed more. Beginning in 1864, Jackson explored the relation between loss of speech and right hemiplegia in patients who had suffered cerebral embolism.

For Jackson, disorders of speech encompassed almost all varieties of intellectual expression, a perspective quite different from Broca’s, and Jackson eschewed the concept of delimited cortical centers. Ten years later, referring to Broca’s area in the left frontal lobe, he proclaimed that “I do not localize speech in any such small part of the brain. To locate the damage which destroys speech and to locate speech are two different things.” Bastian’s Queen Square staff appointment followed Jackson’s by five years. Bastian eschewed the more holistic approach to language taken by his senior colleague, describing separate auditory and visual perceptive centers that subserved speech and reading comprehension.

He was one of the first investigators to consider disorders of reading, and his discussions on this topic antedated better recalled works by Kussmaul and others. Bastian’s views on language centers later expanded to include two specialized regions within the left frontal lobe, a “glosso-kinaesthetic centre” for speech movements and a “cheiro-kinaesthetic centre” for writing movements. Interestingly, both were conceptualized as sensory rather than motor. He was a prolific and influential writer on topics of aphasia. However, later in his career Bastian’s interests veered increasingly from the medical mainstream, and today his contributions are less recalled than those of Jackson.

Session X.  Language
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 10:30 - 11:00 am

A chapter on Oskar and Cécile Vogt's relation to neurology and its societies in Germany

Berlin, Germany
bernd.holdorff AT gmx.de

Between the years 1900 and 1913 both were involved in several meetings and conferences held by the Berlin Society of Psychiatry and Neurology (BGPN).

In 1907 and 1908 O. Vogt (1869 - 1959) already had engaged in arguments with Max Rothmann and Louis Jacobsohn with regard to neuroanatomic subjects.In 1911 Cécile demonstrated the correlation of athetose double and status marmoratus, assisted by the neurologist H.Oppenheim; in the same year, after a clinical-anatomical demonstration of a case by Otto Maas and Oskar Vogt, conference participants challenged Vogt's correlative interpretation of a very distinct "topographic syndrome," stressing the bilateral lacunar lesions (status lacunaris), which explained pseudobulbar paralysis, mutism and astasia-abasia. The discussions between O.Vogt, G.Peritz, H.Liepmann, H.Oppenheim and Max Rothmann with regard to correlative localisation was an elaborate one and resulted in personal accusations against M.Rothmann (1868-1915) by O.Vogt, which was again the case in 1913 against Louis Jacobsohn (1863 – 1940), who claimed ownership of histological techniques.

Eventually the Vogts canceled their membership of the BGPN and again in 1916, of the Society of German Nerve Doctors, possibly referring to Oppenheim’s defeat on the meeting held during the war on war neurosis. Fortunately, in 1926 it was Otfrid Foerster who – as a consequence of his respect for the brain research conducted by the Vogts and his close cooperation with them for his own studies on human beings -- honored them with the Erb memorial medal (Erb-Denk-Münze). As a consequence they rejoined the Society of German Nerve Doctors. In 1952 they became honorary members of its s uccessor, the German Society of Neurology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie).

In conclusion for the earlier period: the style of discussion was more aggressive than today; the paper of O.Maas and O.Vogt was not published; and O.Vogt's harsh reactions in controversial debates complicated and eventually disrupted the relation of the Vogts to the societies of neurology, at least for some years.

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

The portrayal of multiple sclerosis in historical and contemporary motion pictures (1941-2006)

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

Background: Although the frequency with which multiple sclerosis (MS) has appeared in the mass media has risen dramatically in recent years, fictional representations of the illness on screen have been neglected. For this reason, this presentation takes comprehensive inventory of and analyzes all theatre and television films and series which include MS.

Methods: About a third of the relevant productions could be identified via international cinema databanks. The rest were found by inquiring at large film archives, television stations, MS societies, directors and film cineastes. The author viewed and systematically analysed every film.

Results: MS appears as a theme in 32 films between 1941 and 2006, all of which come from nations with high prevalence rates. Film dramas and TV series were the most highly represented genre. Screenplay writers often fell back upon expert medical knowledge in order to make their film treatment as real as possible. From a neurological perspective, many of these films therefore offer a largely accurate presentation of MS symptoms. Short films, hospital TV series and biographies evidence the greatest degree of authenticity, while soap operas offer the least. The visual character of the medium, the limits of acting and the influence of dramaturgy produced a preference for certain symptoms: ataxia, paralysis, visual symptoms and fatigue were present as frequently on screen as in epidemiological studies whereas diplopia, sensory symptoms, bladder incontinence as well as sexual disorders were underrepresented. the filmmakers made dealing with the effects of MS on patients’ self-image, the psychological process of adaptation, and relations with people close to them priorities. Seen historically, there was a transition from “disaster stories” in early films to “coping stories” in later ones. This tendency correlates with therapeutic improvements and changed social attitudes toward the handicapped.

Conclusion: Films about MS stand out sharply from the strongly stereotyped on-screen presentation of other neurological illnesses principally by virtue of their often realistic stagings. To this extent they exemplify an innovative type of medical film. Because representations of MS in the popular media have an immediate effect upon the millions who watch them including the thousands of people whose lives are touched by this disease, they deserve more attention from professional neurology.

Session IV.  Neurocinematography
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 4:00 - 4:30 pm

Something in the blood? A history of the autoimmune hypothesis regarding myasthenia gravis

John KEESEY1 and Johan AARLI2
1Department of neurology, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA.  jkeesey AT ucla.edu
2Department of Neurology, University of Bergen, Norway.  JohanAarli AT neuro.uib.no

From the first descriptions of myasthenia gravis (MG) in the late 19th century, speculation about the cause of MG has centered on the possibility of some curare-like factor circulating in the blood.  The transfer of transient myasthenic symptoms for a myasthenic mother to her newborn reinforced this speculation.  However, it was not until 1960, when William Nastuk and co-workers noted that serum complement correlated with the clinical course in MG, and Arthur Strauss and colleagues described anti-skeletal-muscle antibodies in the sera of some MG patients, that a paradigm shift occurred from prior exclusive focus on the neuromuscular junction to a broader consideration of the relevance of immunological mechanisms in myasthenia.  These findings coincided with an even greater scientific revolution pioneered by Macfarlane Burnet towards cell-mediated and away from chemical immunology.  The dominant immunological question of the decade 1955-1965, however, was whether human autoimmune diseases actually existed.  During the next decade, 1965-1975, various diseases were accepted as being autoimmune in character, and although comparatively rare, MG became prominent among them because of a known antigen, the acetylcholine receptor, and an excellent experimental model.

Session III.  Neurology
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 2:30 - 3:00 pm

Measuring the energy of nervous impulses: the friendship (1911-1950) of Hill and Meyerhof and the emergence of neurochemistry

Arshad M. KHAN
Neuroscience Research Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California USA
arshadk AT usc.edu

The long-term purpose of this project is to trace the historical developments surrounding the collaborative friendship of two scientists, and how this collaboration, though primarily focused on muscle physiology, helped to contribute to our present day understanding of the energetics of nerve cell conduction.

In 1922, Otto Fritz Meyerhof of Kiel and Archibald Vivian Hill of London shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their contributions to muscle physiology1. These achievements were the culmination of a collaboration and friendship that began in 1911, when Meyerhof first exchanged correspondence with Hill2, and which persisted through and past the First World War. Although Hill and Meyerhof are best known for their work on muscle preparations, comparatively less attention has been given — in published historical accounts of neurochemistry3 — of their great influence on the development of nerve cell energetics. Some of these influences, which begin after the First World War, involved the training of new scientists. Two examples are described below.

  1. In 1926, Ralph W. Gerard joined A. V. Hill’s laboratory. There, he participated in the classic experiments of Hill that demonstrated, for the first time, the production of heat by nerves. Gerard made the seminal discovery that there is a delayed heat production following a period of nerve stimulation4. In 1927, Gerard moved to Meyerhof’s laboratory in Berlin, where he measured the O2 consumed by a segment of nerve at rest and during stimulation5. Hill and Meyerhof allowed Gerard to publish as sole author on these key studies. Gerard’s own laboratory later made great contributions to our understanding of nerve cell energetics, as exemplified by their development of the capillary microelectrode (in the late 1940s), which was later adapted by Hodgkin, Eccles and Huxley to their preparations of nerve and muscle.
  2. In 1958, Bernard C. Abbott, working in A. V. Hill’s laboratory, first reported the heat produced by a single action potential at 0°C. Abbott, together with another Hill lab colleague, J. Murdoch Ritchie, went on to develop robust research programs in biophysics, energetics and neurochemistry in the U.S.

The poster presentation accompanying this abstract includes excerpts from the later correspondence of Hill to Meyerhof during and after the Second World War, oral history source material regarding Bernard Abbott and A. V. Hill, and rare photographs of Meyerhof, Hill and Hill’s students, including Bernard Katz. Material is also presented which provides insight about the impact of the Second World War on these scientists’ personal lives and careers, including the flight of Meyerhof from Nazi Germany and occupied France.


  1. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1922/
  2. see Hill, A.V. (1950) A Challenge to Biochemists, In: (D. Nachmansohn, ed.) Metabolism and Function: A Collection of Papers Dedicated to Otto Meyerhof on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, pp. 4-11. New York: Elsevier.
  3. for example, Tower DB (1951) Neurochem Res 16:1085-1097; McIlwain (1985) J Neurochem 45:1-10; Bachelard (1993) J Neurochem 61 (Suppl):S287-S307.
  4. Gerard RW (1927) J Physiol (Lond.):62:349-363.
  5. Gerard RW (1927) Science 66:495-499.
  6. Abbott BC, Hill AV, Howarth JV (1958) Proc R Soc (Lond), Ser B 148:149-187.

The author is grateful to Nancy R. Miller, Public Records Archivist at the University Archives Center, University of Pennsylvania, for providing access to A. V. Hill’s correspondence with O. Meyerhof, and is indebted to Pauline and Doris Abbott for graciously providing interviews to the author, as well as photographs from the late Bernard Abbott’s personal collection. Finally, the author thanks Dr. Chien-Ping Ko for valuable discussions, and Dr. Alan G. Watts and Dr. Larry W. Swanson for guidance and support.

Poster Session
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 9:30 - 10:30 am

Brain: etymology and comparative linguistics

Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany
gwk AT neuro.mpg.de

What is the origin of the noun "brain"; a word used to name the most complex organ in the universe of living objects? In old English it is "braegen", and is the word that still exists in other western Germanic languages, e.g. "brein" in Danish and Frisian. In the north German local dialects the term "bregen" is used, but only in the butcher's vocabulary for designating the brains of slaughtered animals. This edible material has been used as a component of sausages known as "Bregenwurst", e.g. in Hannover, the capital of Lower Saxony. The old English "braegen", a term derived from the old high German "bregan" or "bragma", has striking similarities to the old Greek “brechma”, meaning  the front part of the head.

This anatomical designation is also the origin of the word for brain in high German, Dutch and Nordic languages e.g. Gehirn or Hirn, "herse" (the Netherlands) or "hjärna" (Sweden). This word stem goes back to the old high German "hirni" which means head, apex or the uppermost part of the skull of animals, and is also equated in many mammals with "horns", in gothic "haurn", latin "cornu" close to the "cerebrum", old Greek "keras", "kara" for head and "kranion" for skull, the indoeuropean stem is "ker" and the original Sanskrit word for head "sirsa". Classical Greek precisely describes the brain as "the contents of the skull", i.e. as "encephalon", a noun that has survived more than two thousand years and is still used in medical terminology.

Poster Session
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 10:00 - 10:30 am

Trust, honesty and fraud in science

Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology
gwk AT neuro.mpg.ge

Scientific honesty and the observance of the principles of responsible conduct in science are essential in all scientific work which seeks to expand our knowledge and which is intended to earn respect from the public. The principle of good scientific practice can be violated in many ways – ranging from a lack of care in the application of scientific methodology or in the documentation of data, to serious scientific misconduct through deliberate falsification, fabrication, or deceit.

Plagiarism (piracy of ideas) has become a new pest at our universities since the internet is extensively used without reference to the source. However, misconduct in science is not a new phenomenon. Looking back into the history of 2000 years of scientific discoveries reveals a Pandora's Box of questionable behaviour, also in the brain sciences.

Educators in science increasingly face responsibility for developing moral awareness and not merely technical and strategic research skills in the young generation. Mediation of the standards of responsible conduct in science is an important contribution for limiting misconduct and for establishing the enduring trust of the public in scientific work.

Session V.  Neuroethics (President-elect's Lecture)
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 9:00 - 9:30 am

The Encyclopedia Britannica and the 'neuroscientist' encyclopedists, Thomas Young and Peter Mark Roget

Lawrence KRUGER
Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
lkruger AT mednet.ucla.edu

The prominent scientists of the Royal Society contributed significantly in structuring the ‘encyclopedist’ trend by the early 19th century when the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Napier, struggled with finding appropriate authors for difficult and exotic subjects. The extraordinary polymath, natural philosopher and physician Thomas Young proved the most prolific and versatile of EB contributors with 85 entries (initially anonymous), including important treatises on vision and the physics of ‘light’, but he demurred from Napier’s invitation to expound on ‘craniology’ and the fad of ‘mind science’ or phrenology, which Young considered “trash”. Thus the ‘hot’ topic of faith and notoriety was given to the writer of an extensive treatise on physiology, Peter Mark Roget, physician-scientist and secretary of the Royal Society, who later headed the Royal Commission dedicated to solving the problem of London’s environmental pollution of the Thames and in his latter years produced a systematic word book known as the “thesaurus”. This essay provides commentary on the controversial scientific and religious issues underlying ‘cranioscopy’ and how it contributed to the emergence of a ‘brain science’.

Session VIII.  Sources (Books and Brains)
Friday, 22 June 2007, 9:00 - 9:30 am

Nicotine and self-medication: a historical perspective

Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Recent studies suggest that nicotine dependence may serve as an attempt to alleviate an underlying psychiatric disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and Tourette syndrome. The connection between persistent smoking and self-medication is rarely directly addressed in smoking reduction campaigns and policies. The limited attention given to the role of self-medication in smoking reduction efforts is as much historical as scientific. The reasons for this neglect are tied to the evolution of classification systems of psychiatric syndromes and addictive behaviors. In the immediate postwar period, addiction was often understood as a function of what was then labeled as the "addictive personality,” a designation that implied that addiction resulted from underlying psychiatric disturbances rather than from the addictive properties of the substances themselves. However, the addictive personality construct, increasingly identified with psychoanalytic psychiatry, fell into disfavor. Meanwhile, as a result of the discovery of the brain’s natural opiates in the 1980s, addiction became understood in the context of the interaction of brain mechanisms with the actions of addictive substances. By the late 1980s many neuroscientists argued that exogenous addictive substances, including nicotine, altered brain chemistry and architecture in permanent ways. For many addiction experts, these putative brain alterations explained the high rate of smoking cessation failures. This paradigm was enshrined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), beginning with the 3rd revision in 1987. In subsequent DSM revisions, addictive behaviors, including smoking, were reclassified as distinct categories of psychiatric disease (e. g., Nicotine Dependence, 305.10). As a result of this increased attention to the action of nicotine on the brains of smokers, the role of nicotine as self-medication for some underlying psychiatric conditions has been obscured.

Session IX.  Neurochemistry
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 9:00 - 9:30 am

"Mos Angeles": the impact of the Moscow Colloquium on Electroencephalography of Higher Nervous System Activity on international brain research

Institute for the History of Medicine, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, Russia
licht AT aha.ru

The late 1950s was a period of recognition of Russian neurophysiology by the international neuroscience community and vice versa. This process of “opening windows in both directions” might be illustrated by The Moscow Colloquium on Electroencephalography of Higher Nervous System Activity.

This paper is based on unpublished records of international contacts of Soviet neurophysiologists and organization of the Moscow Colloquium from the Archive of Russian Academy of Science (ARAN), reports in Soviet periodicals, publications in Festschriften, etc.

The Colloquium took place on October 6-11, 1958 at the House of Scientists in Moscow. It was organized by Academy of Sciences of USSR under the initiative of the Institute for Higher Nervous Activity and focused at: 1) EEG correlates of cortical excitation and inhibition; 2) electrophysiological study of different brain structures and their role in conditioned reflexes and 3) EEG of higher nervous activity in humans.

There were 46 participants from 17 countries who delivered 29 talks during 10 sessions. At the final session it was suggested to launch an International Year for Study of Brain and to ask UNESCO for international coordination of brain research. This resulted into the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) founded in 1960.

Horace W. Magoun (1907-1991) from UCLA was one of participants of the Moscow Colloquium. In February 1958 he chaired a special conference in USA dedicated to Russian contributions to an understanding of the central nervous system and behavior. The attempts to link the Pavlovian concept of conditioned reflexes and the teaching on the role of brainstem reticular formation might be traced into Magoun’s papers published in Festschriften dedicated to Soviet neurophysiologists I.S. Beritashvili (J. Beritoff ), P.S.Kupalov and P.K.Anokhin. In his preface to the second Russian edition of Magoun’s The Waking Brain (Moscow, 1965) Anokhin quotes a private letter of the author who considered this book as a joint effort of Los Angeles physiologists and their Russian counterparts from Ivan Sechenov onwards.


Determining the distinction between language and thought through medico-legal considerations of aphasia in the late 19th century

Marjorie LORCH and Paula HELLAL
Birkbeck College, University of London, UK
m.lorch AT bbk.ac.uk ; pjhellal AT supanet.com

In the second half of the 19th century, the newly emerging concept of an acquired disorder of expression (‘aphasia’, Trousseau 1864) gave rise to considerable interest in the distinction between an impairment of ‘speech’ versus ‘intelligence’. There was much debate as to whether aphasia was strictly a language disorder, or symptomatic of a more general cognitive disorder. In the law courts, physicians were called upon as expert witnesses to give their opinion regarding the mental capacity of individuals suffering from aphasia and/or mental illness in numerous civil cases at this time. Physicians were required not only to assess particular individuals, but also to clarify contemporary medical terminology for the courts, explaining new distinctions in the understanding of mental disorders.

This paper will examine the medico-legal aspects of aphasia through a discussion of a number of cases that appeared in the English speaking courts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By examining the arguments put forward by clinical experts on the mental capacity of aphasics, their views of the relation between language and thought will be revealed. The type of evidence presented regarding the aphasics’ behaviour and how it was judged to be relevant in the determination of the case will be analysed. Various diagnostic distinctions, assessment techniques, and non-verbal communication systems were developed and refined in this legal context. The goal of this research is to illuminate the development of the distinct concepts of language and thought through the examination of medico-legal records.

Trousseau, A. 1864. De l’aphasie, maladie d’écrite récemment sous le nom impropre d’aphémie. Gazette des Hôpitaux Civils et Militaires, 1, 13-14.

Session X.  Language
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 11:00 - 11:30 am

Raverdino and Meyer-Schwickerath's photocoagulators: cinematography apparatus for neuro-ophthalmology diseases

Lorenzo LORUSSO1, Berti G. BOCK2, A.F. FRANCHINI2 and A. PORRO3
1Neurology Department, "M. Mellini" Hospital, Chiari, Brescia, Italy.  walton2002 AT libero.it
2History of Medicine, University of Milan, Italy.  antonia.franchini AT unimi.it
3History of Medicine, University of Brescia, Italy.  porroale AT med.unibs.it

Consequence of exposure to intense light and physical properties of sunlight were known since Greeks. Plato and Xenophon warned against direct observation of the sun. Studies concerning those properties and effects were encouraged by introduction of ophthalmoscopes and development of phototherapy. In 20th century Luigi Maggiore (1888-1970) began to apply phototherapy for intraocular neoplasms. In the same time and independently José Morón-Salas and Gerard Meyer-Schwickerath (1920-1992) experimented the use of sunlight for the treatment of internal ocular diseases. Later Meyer-Schwickerath direct his research on intense resource developing a powerful arc lamp that was applied to treat retinal detachment.

Emilio Raverdino (1896-1977) designed a photocoagulator based on xenon lamp, assembled and marketed by Officine Prevost in Milan, a manufacturer of cinematographical apparatuses in which a xenon lamp was usually employed. Almost simultaneously, Meyer-Schwickerath applied a similar apparatus by Carl Zeiss company as a photocoagulator. The apparatuses were similar, but in Raverdino’s model the use of an intra-red filter was optional.

Invention and rapid spread of incandescent lamps banished the electric arc to field not strictly related to lighting, or necessitating a particular intensity of light, often related to spectral features. In cinematography the arch lamp was the best light source. Problems to use the electric arc as a source of energy by Raverdino and Meyer-Schwickerath was satisfactory with ophthalmoiatric colleagues: Carl Zeiss and Officine Prevost were the main European manufacturers of cinematographical apparatus.

Concerning the treatment in neuro-ophthalmology disorders, photocoagulator was applied in corneal and retinal pathology, Eale disease, diabetic retinopathy, von Hippel-Lindau angiomatosis and viral infections (in herpetic cases).

Photodynamic therapy is accepted as a method of care to limit as far as possible any damage to a patient’s neuro-optical structure. Raverdino and Meyer-Schwickerath's studies were important to understand the intrinsic nature of light to the application in the basic and application medicine.

Session I.  Instrumentation and Laboratory Sciences
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 11:30 am - 12:00 pm

Scientific pre-history of cinema: neuroscientists and "optical toys"

Lorenzo LORUSSO1, Nicholas J. WADE2 and Sherry GINN3
1Neurology Department, "M. Mellini" Hospital, Chiari, Brescia, Italy.  walton2002 AT libero.it
2Psychology Department, University of Dundee, Scotland.  n.j.wade AT dundee.ac.uk
3Social Sciences Department, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Concord, North Carolina, USA.  ginns AT rowancabarrus.edu

Great strides were made in studies of the physiology of the eye and the understanding of the physical and mental process of seeing between 1820 and 1870. This applied particularly to visual motion perception where a series of connected, sometimes even contemporaneous, but independent studies were undertaken by European scientists. These concerned the persistence of vision, optical illusions and related phenomena. Amongst these students of vision were Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) in London and Jan Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) in Breslau. Roget was a multifaceted physician who in December 1824 gave a lecture at the Royal Society on: “Explanation of an optical deception in the appearance of the spokes of a wheel seen through vertical apertures.” This lecture provided the basis for the development of the thaumatrope that transforms two separate images into a new one due to visual persistence. Roget’s study was important because his was among the first experimental attempts to understand the phenomena. In addition, he recreated the process under scientific conditions. Another scientist who has been neglected by neuroscientists examining the scientific pre-history of cinema is Purkinje, who dedicated himself to study of visual perception. His 1818 thesis was entitled: “Contribution to the knowledge of vision in its subjective aspects.” In 1840 he improved upon the phenakistoscope of Joseph Plateau (1801-1883) and the stroboscopic disc of Simon von Stampfer (1792-1864) by placing the pictures and the slots onto two separates disks mounted on the same axis. Purkinje’s first machine was named phorolyt and was offered for sale in Breslau (now Wroclaw) in Poland, where he was teaching. Later, he replaced the drawings with three-dimensional figures, a technique he referred to as phorografia. He further developed the phorolyt, re-naming it the kinesiskop. These experiments were conducted in a century which embraced the concept of the machine as an instrument of progress.

Session IV.  Neurocinematography
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 4:30 - 5:00 pm

A history of mesial temporal sclerosis and its treatment

Bijal K. MEHTA and Edward J. FINE
Neurology, Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, Buffalo, New York, USA and Department of Neurology, School of Medicine and Allied Health, State University of New York, Buffalo, USA.   bmehta AT buffalo.edu     efine AT buffalo.edu

Mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) was first noted by Bouchet and Cazauvieihl in 1825. They described 9 patients with changes to Ammon's Horn, which they later called Ammon's Horn Sclerosis, as the source for those patients’ epilepsy. Sommer in 1880 first described the microscopic pathology of MTS. William Gowers and later Wilder Penfield, doubted that this area and the lesions described by Sommer were not likely to be a source of epilepsy. Spielmeyer and Scholtz stated that the temporal lobe lesions noted by Sommer were a result of epilepsy rather than its cause. In 1935, Stauder described post-mortem findings of MTS in a group of epileptic patients in Germany.

Surgical treatment was attempted, because MTS was intractable to medical therapy. Wilder Penfield and Richmond Paine reported that removal of "deeper" temporal lobe structures eliminated seizures in some patients who had prior superficial temporal lobe surgery. M.A. Falconer in the 1960-1970’s showed that the majority of adult patients who had spike discharges on their electroencephalograms (EEG) from their temporal lobes had MTS by histological criteria. He concluded that excision of sclerotic lesions reduced seizure recurrence. In the 1980's, Turner and Wyler showed that complete temporal lobectomy was effective treatment for temporal lobe epilepsy due to MTS.

As neuro-imaging technology improved, diagnosis of MTS by computed tomography (CT) was first reported in 1 979 and by magnetic resonance imaging in 1987. Improved imaging and surgical techniques in the last 2 decades led to "reemergence" of surgical excision of the epilepsy causing lesions. Future interventional treatments for MTS and associated temporal lobe epilepsy will rely on the foundations of prior procedures and diagnostic techniques.

Session III.  Neurology
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 3:00 - 3:30 pm

The "Societas Medica Scandinavica" film archive: the use of old films as a possibility for research and teaching

Kenneth ÖGREN
Department of Clinical Science, Division of Psychiatry; and Department of Culture and Media, Umeå University, Sweden
kenneth.ogren AT kultmed.umu.se

Modern media technology renders the possibility of transferring conveniently old film rolls to a DVD-disc. Thus, old films on science can be saved and reused for scholar purposes and make possible the important reflections of the history of medicine and medical technology. Films produced during the 20th century, properly and safely kept may be a gold mine for different disciplines, opening up for new ways of analyzing history of medicine, from a century that has seen tremendous development. Such an opportunity is now opened through the old 16mm films that were collected for the ”Societas Medica Scandinavica” film archive. Consisting of approx. 1000 films on various scientific and medical subjects - some of these on neurology, neurosurgery and neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases – may be important value for researchers.

How these films were uncovered is a strange history with a happy ending. Starting with an indication of the existence of the film archive in a medical journal, a process of detective work was initiated, leading me finally, to a basement room in a university location outside Gothenburg, where loads of films from the archive were kept - very insecure and under suboptimal archival conditions. What I saw made me sad.

Due to the desolated interest of the 16 mm films, they were left on a dangerous Via Dolorosa. To my surprise loads of cardboards, rather insensitively, had been put into the basement room. From the point of view of the rigors archival requirements for the protection of old 16 mm films, many from the 1940s and even the 1930s were in danger. Immediately I wrote an article, which was published in the cultural section of the dominating Gothenburg newspaper. Then I had laid the ground for a communication with the Gothenburg University, which obviously were ashamed of there handling. They even appointed an archivist especially to investigate the matter.

Now the films are deposited to the documentary unit of the Swedish Film Institute and films are in the process of cataloging and renovation. I had managed to get the films saved for research. I will be able to show some parts of films that might be of interest to the ISHN. I have shown some films to psychiatric colleges and psychiatric students have had an opportunity to analyze and discuss matters which otherwise would have been totally unavailable for them.


Why you shouldn't let your students write your obituary: the case of Johannes Müller

Laura OTIS
Department of English, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
lotis AT emory.edu

Early in their careers, Jakob Henle, Theodor Schwann, Emil du Bois-Reymond, Hermann Helmholtz, Rudolf Virchow, Robert Remak, and Ernst Haeckel all studied with the brilliant anatomist and physiologist, Johannes Müller. Each of these scientists described him in a different way, so that we have been left with a series of contrasting portraits. When one compares du Bois-Reymond’s and Virchow’s memorial addresses for Müller, as historian of science Nicholas Jardine has pointed out, it is sometimes hard to believe that they are describing the same investigator.

For the most part, however, historians have quoted the students’ accounts as though they offered transparent windows into Müller’s lab, providing objective depictions of his science. Jardine’s and Gabriel Finkelstein’s work on du Bois-Reymond and Frederic L. Holmes’s work on Helmholtz constitute important exceptions. Just as nineteenth-century elegies to French Academicians promoted the speaker’s science, as Dorinda Outram has shown, the students’ evaluations of Johannes Müller’s investigations reflected their own evolving assumptions about how science should be done. Their comments on Müller reveal as much about their own experiments as they do about their teacher’s.

In a systematic case study, I have compared these seven students’ comments on Müller’s science, examining them in light of each pupil’s relationship with Müller, his socio-economic background, the kind of job that he obtained, and the investigations that he later performed. I have found that their portraits of Müller say more about the students than they do about the mentor. I do not support the constructivist position that there is no truth about Müller, only narratives, but I believe that the truth about Müller’s science can be approached only by carefully comparing the students’ accounts and examining their reasons for writing.

Session VIII.  Sources (Books and Brains)
Friday, 22 June 2007, 10:00 - 10:30 am

The origins of anatomical projection: not Descartes but Ibn al-Haytham

Department of Humanities in Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA
russell AT medicine.tamhsc.edu

In mapping the geography of the mind, a key concept has been anatomical projection based on the point to point correspondence. Its origin has been attributed to Descartes’s view of the re-projection of the retinal image along the central pathways to the pineal gland.

I will argue that the origin of this concept goes back to Ibn al-Haytham’s (Alhazen .d. 1040) theory of image formation. In his experimental researches of light projection in dark rooms, he defined an optical image on the basis of points of light reflected from the surface of the visual object to the eye. The image, preserving its spatially organized punctate order was conveyed, one from each eye, to the chiasma where the point to point matching or superimposition produced a single image. Then the single image was projected with the same punctate organization to the brain. Thus, Ibn al-Haytham introduces not only the essential principle of a point to point correspondence between the object and its representation within the eye, but also the concept of re-projection from the eye to the brain.

It will be shown that in bringing together anatomy and physics. Ibn al-Haytham represents a fundamental shift from the earlier Greek and Arabic qualitiative, holistic concepts and ‘forms’. Subsequently utilized by Kepler and Descartes, Ibn al-Haytham’s corresponding point theory made a lasting contribution to the neurosciences.

Session VI.  Structures
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 2:00 - 2:30 pm

'Elementary units of cortical activity': the rise and fall of the cortical column

Vision Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
c.u.m.smith AT aston.ac.uk

The roots of the concept of cortical columns stretch far back into the history of neuroscience. The impulse to compartmentalise the cortex into functional units can be seen at work in the phrenology of the beginning of the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the next century Korbinian Brodmann and several others published treatises on cortical architectonics. Later, in the middle of that century, Lorente de No writes of chains of ‘reverberatory’ neurons orthogonal to the pial surface of the cortex and called them ‘elementary units of cortical activity’. This is the first hint that a columnar organisation might exist. With the advent of microelectrode recording first Vernon Mountcastle (1957) and then David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel provided evidence consistent with the idea that columns might constitute units of physiological activity. This idea was backed up in the 1970s by clever histochemical techniques and culminated in Hubel and Wiesel’s well-known ‘ice-cube’ model of the cortex and Szentogathai’s brilliant iconography. The cortical column can thus be seen as the terminus ad quem of several great lines of neuroscientific research: currents originating in phrenology and passing through cytoarchitectonics; currents originating in neurocytology and passing through Lorente de No. Famously, Huxley noted the tragedy of a beautiful hypothesis destroyed by an ugly fact. Famously, too, human visual perception is orientated toward seeing edges and demarcations when, perhaps, they are not there. Recently the concept of cortical columns has come in for the same radical criticism that undermined the architectonics of the early part of the twentieth century. Does history repeat itself? This paper reviews this history and asks the question.

Session VI.  Structures
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 3:00 - 3:30 pm

Acetylcholine--from Vagusstoff to cerebral transmitter

Theodore L. SOURKES
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
theodore.sourkes AT mcgill.ca

In the 1930s, i.e. the decade after Otto Loewi’s work, investigators reported the widespread occurrence and role of acetylcholine (ACh) in the animal body, beyond the parasympathetic nerves. The usual method of detection of ACh was by its contractile action on frog’s rectus abdominis muscle. An outstanding addition to this work was the substitution of eserinised leech muscle, which is specifically and extremely sensitive to ACh, as demonstrated by Hermann George Fühner (1871-1944), a toxicologist. This biological assay, developed by Wilhelm Feldberg (1900-1993) and Bruno Minz (1905-1965) facilitated the discovery of many new roles for ACh. Thus, Feldberg and J. H. Gaddum (1900-1965) found that stimulation of the cervical sympathetic nerve of the cat causes the release of ACh from the superior cervical ganglion. Shortly afterwards Henry Dale (1875-1968) and his associates observed the release of ACh when motor nerves to skeletal muscle are stimulated. In 1936 Juda Hirsch Quastel (1899-1987) and his colleagues in Cardiff introduced a biochemical dimension to the study of ACh. Quastel speculated that this compound might be important in the brain as well as at peripheral synapses. Making use of the leech bioassay, brought to his laboratory by Michael Tennenbaum, Quastel’s team now demonstrated that ACh is actually synthesized in the brain, and that the process requires energy, supplied by the concurrent oxidation of glucose. Quastel’s group also described a “bound” form of ACh in the brain, thus providing early evidence of sequestration of the neurotransmitter in presynaptic vesicles. In 1953 F. C. MacIntosh and Peter Oborin completed the demonstration of the cerebral function of ACh by showing that it is released from the intact cerebral cortex during normal brain activity.


The Goldstein group: a case study from emigration-induced sceintific change in 20th century neuroscience

Department of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
frank.stahnisch AT mail.mcgill.ca

The famous German neurologist Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) has been the subject of much historiographical research with regard to the range of aspects of his neurological theory, the advancement of clinical psychology, and the importance of his research group for a “holist tradition” in the neurosciences in Weimar Germany. Goldstein’s neuroscientific biography and the course of his highly innovative basic and clinical work have passed through many distinctive phases: This regards, for example, his succession to Ludwig Edinger (1855-1918)–as director of the Frankfurt Neurological Institute in 1918–and the development of the pioneering work of his research group in the neurology of head injured WWI soldiers. When receiving the directorship of the Neurological Clinic at the Berlin City Hospital of Moabit in 1930, he created a multidisciplinary research and patient care model, which was reflected in the particular architecture of the services of neurology and clinical psychology, neuropathology and histological research. Yet apart from the explicit biographical views on his work as well as on the innovative approaches of the Frankfurt and Berlin group of collaborators–such as Adhémar Gelb (1887-1936) or Wolfgang Koehler (1887-1967)–the continuity of their work rests strongly under-investigated. This is especially so with respect to the destiny of the Goldstein group after their forced-migration to North-America, which has only come into scholarly focus with respect to the occurring changes in the field of clinical and experimental psychology.

This paper investigates some conceptual and practical modifications that Goldstein’s neuroscience underwent, after he had settled in the U.S. and began to work at Columbia University (New York). Further, the group of émigrés-pupils and -collaborators of Kurt Goldstein–including the Montreal psychiatrist and neuropathologist Karl Stern (1906-1975) and in a sense the Richmond, VT, neurologist and psychiatrist Walther Riese (1890-1974)–is a most interesting example for the study of significant influences derived from emigration-induced scientific change due to the “dislocation of research cultures” in 20th century neuroscience.

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

Aspects of the history of instrumentation in the neurosciences at Rockefeller University: Nobelists Herbert Gasser and H. Keffer Hartline

The Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA
stapled AT rockefeller.edu

In the context of the critical role of instrumentation over a century of biomedical research at Rockefeller University, Dr. Stapleton will examine the instrumentation behind the Nobel Prize-winning research of Herbert Gasser and H. Keffer Hartline. He will review the specific instrumentation utilized, and how it framed experimental procedures and results. He will conclude by considering why instrumentation has received relatively short shrift in Gasser's and Hartline's scientific publications as well as in many historical accounts.

Invited Lecture.  Instrumentation and Laboratory Sciences
Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 9:00 - 10:00 am

Somnambulism and trance states in the works of John William Polidori, author of The Vampyre (1819)

Department of English, Washington State University, Pullman, USA
anne AT annestiles.com

This presentation explores the intersections between nineteenth-century neuroscience and vampirism that I began investigating in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Brain Stem,” a paper delivered at the 10th annual ISHN conference in St. Andrews. Here I turn to the earliest British vampire tale, John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). As Lord Byron’s personal physician, Polidori traveled to the Continent and participated in the famous ghost-story writing contest that also produced Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). Though Polidori’s contribution, The Vampyre, is less well-known than Shelley’s novel, it has remained popular and inspired more famous vampire tales like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Polidori’s novella also reveals its author’s preoccupation with somnambulism, a medical condition he explored in his 1815 dissertation at the University of Edinburgh.

Previous historians and literary critics have paid scant attention to Polidori’s medical thesis, partly because it was available only in Latin. Stanley Finger and I recently commissioned an English translation by classicist David Petrain, which we hope to publish soon. We have used this document to understand how Polidori’s medical interest in sleepwalking dovetails with his pet literary theme, vampirism. Polidori’s medical thesis responds to eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century explorations of unconscious thought processes by Charles Bell, David Hartley, and Erasmus Darwin. These scientists argued that the brain was the organ of thought and the center for nervous sensation, functions previously attributed to the soul or to human free will. Romantic authors like Polidori were alternately attracted to and repulsed by these materialist theories. In The Vampyre, Polidori’s zombie-like villain embodies the widespread fear – spawned by the work of Darwin, Bell, and others -- that unconscious mental processes dominate human brain function, eclipsing so-called “higher” functions like willpower and divine inspiration. Thus, this presentation suggests how nineteenth-century neurological discoveries have helped shape modern vampire lore.

Session XI.  Trance and Hypnosis
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 1:30 - 2:00 pm

Researches into the vascular supply of the central nervous system: an Australian contribution

Catherine E. STOREY
Department of Neurology, Royal North Shore Hospital, St. Leonards, NSW, Australia
cstorey AT nsccahs.health.nsw.gov.au

Although Thomas Willis (1621-1675) had first grasped the functional significance of the arterial circle at the base of the brain as early as 1664, it was not until the late 19C, early 20C that researchers began to examine the functional distribution of the major arteries contributing to the 'circle'.

Led by the pioneering experiments of Henri Duret (1849-1921) in the laboratories of the Salpêtrière, much of the early work in this field was undertaken by the French physician/anatomists, of which Charles Foix (1882-1927) was the leading contributor, with contributions from Otto Huebner (1843-1926) in Germany and the English neurologist Charles Beevor (1854-1908). These are names that are familiar to neurologists. There are however, two names that are not so well known. These men were Joseph Lexden Shellshear (1885-1958) and Andrew Abbie (1905-1976).

The two were Australians; both graduated from the Medical School of the University of Sydney; both were later to undertake a period of research in the department of Anatomy at University College London, and although at different periods, both were greatly influenced by the head of this department Professor Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937), himself an expatriate Australian and Sydney University graduate. Both retained a phylogenetic approach to their research, so prominent in the studies of Elliot Smith. Shellshear later took the chair of anatomy at Hong Kong University, where he continued his neuro-vascular research until his return to Sydney University as Research Professor of Anatomy from 1937. Abbie returned to Sydney University as Senior Lecturer in Anatomy in 1935. He was to become the Elder Professor of Anatomy at the University of Adelaide in 1945, a position he held until 1970.

Although the University of Sydney is young in comparison to the great European Universities with long anatomical traditions (the Medical School commenced with an intake of 4 students in 1883, while the anatomy building was not completed until 1891), there was clearly an early active culture of research.

The contributions of these early researchers in the field of vascular neuro-anatomy should be acknowledged.

Session VI.  Structures
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 2:30 - 3:00 pm

Renaissance brain illustration: the first realistic views (Strasbourg, 1517)

Department of Neuroscience, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
lswanson AT usc.edu

The first naturalistic, printed views of the brain are found in a broadside published by Johann Schott of Strasbourg in 1517, and then bound into two books on surgery, Hans von Gersdorff’s Feldtbüch der Wundtartzney (1517, Schott: Straszburg) and Lorenz Fries’s Spiegel der Artzney (1518, Grieninger, Strassburg). The most intriguing question raised by this event is: why were the brilliant achievements typified by the naturalistic painting, sculpture, and architecture of Early Renaissance Florence not applied for a century or more to anatomy, and to medicine in general? As background, the history of schematic and naturalistic brain illustration to 1517 is briefly outlined, followed by physical and conceptual descriptions of the Schott fugitive sheet—which contains a dissected torso reminiscent of Mantegna’s St. Sebastian (c1455-60), surrounded by six small figures illustrating Mondino’s (c. 1316) method of dissecting the head. Garrison wrote that, “no one can study these drawings without sensing a sudden leap forward in the power of observation.” (1969, p. 34); Choulant noted that “The anatomy…is much superior to any anatomic illustrations then known. The manner of representation is peculiar [original], especially the anatomy of the brain, which has been treated in a wholly new and exceptional fashion.” (Chouland/Frank 1962, p. 132); and Herrlinger went so far as to opine that the “illustration is just as modern in its basic conception as the contemporary illustrations of Leonardo.” (1970, p. 64). Circumstances surrounding the creation of this anatomical illustration are then described (the first public dissection conducted in Strasbourg—on a hanged criminal by the learned physician Wendelin Hock, with drawings by Dürer’s most illustrious student, Hans Balding, and woodblocks cut by a possible student of Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Wächtlin), followed by a history of published variants of the plate, which essentially became iconic. Finally, the original question is addressed from at least one then contemporary perspective: whether or not anatomical illustrations actually do more harm than good.

Invited Lecture.  
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 11:45 am - 12:30 pm

Founders of Russian neurology and psychiatry and their brains

Alla A. VEIN
Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
a.a.vein AT lumc.nl

The search for the biological roots of extraordinary capacities counts many centuries. From the eighteenth through the twentieth century there was a particular interest in brain with its extraordinary convolutions. Russian scientists were among the energetic participants in the search of neuroanatomical equivalents of exceptional mental capacities and talents. Conventionally it is thought that collecting and mapping the brains of famous Russian persons began in Moscow in 1924, starting with V.I. Lenin’s brain and the foundation of the Moscow Brain Research Institute. later in 1927, V.M. Bekhterev came with the idea of founding the Soviet Pantheon of Brains. However, the actual collection of ‘great brains’ began much earlier at the universities. Among other celebrities the collections of medical faculties contained the brains of medical professors, many of whom, according to existing tradition at the time, bequeathed their brains for the scientific purpose.

The Neurological Institute of Moscow University preserved the brain of two eminent scholars: the founders of the Moscow schools of psychiatry and neurology professors Sergey Korsakov (1854-1900) and Aleksey Kozhevnikov (1836-1902). It is fascinating that the initiative of founding the Neurological institute was taken by Kozhevnikov and was later accomplished by his pupils in 1913.

The report on the dissections of the brains of Korsakov and Kozhevnikov was published by A.A. Kaputsin in 1926 in the journal Clinical Archive of Genius and Talent (of Europathology), founded and edited by G.V. Segalin in Ekaterinburg (the Urals). The report consisted of the detailed neuroanatomical assessment of the brains. The author also commented on the common features of both brains: they exceeded the average weight value with the undoubted predominance of the left hemisphere and with highly developed convolutions of frontal and parietal lobes.

Later on the collection of the famous brains was enriched by the brains of other famous Russian neuroscientists, including V.M. Bekhterev, G.I. Rossolimo, L.S. Vygotsky, and I.P. Pavlov.

Session VIII.  Sources (Books and Brains)
Friday, 22 June 2007, 10:30 - 11:00 am

Encephalitis lethargica and influenza: was there a relationship?

Joel A. VILENSKY1, Sherman McCALL2 and Sid GILMAN3
1Indiana School of Medicine, Ft. Wayne, USA.  vilensk AT ipfw.edu
2Department of Molecular Pathology and genetics, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, USA.  Sherman.McCall AT afip.osd.mil
3Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.  sgilman AT umich.edu

Encephalitis lethargica (EL) was a highly polymorphic neurological epidemic disease that occurred primarily 1916-1925 and killed as many as 500,000 people worldwide. During the epidemic period some investigators posited an etiological and/or epidemiological relationship between this disease and the approximately contemporaneous “Spanish” influenza epidemic. Others were certain the two diseases were unrelated. Since the epidemic period this debate has continued with a few publications beginning in the 1970s describing the use of modern molecular/biochemical techniques to examine brain tissue/serum from EL victims and/or postencephalitic parkinsonian (a sequel of EL) patients to investigate whether influenza caused EL. The majority of these studies have concluded that there is no evidence that the influenza virus caused EL.

Although the data supporting a causal relationship between influenza and EL are weak, the data negating such a relationship are not as strong as generally perceived. Most important is that the clinical data on the subjects are often limited or problematic, making it possible that the subjects did not have EL. In addition, there is a myriad of technical limitations that might have caused false negatives in the experimental studies. Probably the most important is stage of infection; most cases available for testing were stricken with EL a lengthy period before their deaths, so viral fragments may no longer have been present.

Also, viral degradation undoubtedly occurred due to tissue autolysis during the postmortem interval: 1) formalin fixation is suboptimal for molecular studies; 2) samples were stored 80 years without climate control; and, 3) lysate processing from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue is difficult. All of these factors adversely affect the amount of RNA that can be extracted.

Current empirical studies provide little evidence of influenza causation, but technical limitations and the shortage of appropriate historical material for testing make it difficult to exclude a relationship between EL and influenza with confidence.

Symposium.  Encephalitis Lethargica
Thursday, 21 June 2007, 9:30 - 11:15 am

On the history of vision, optics, and the neurosciences

Nicholas J. WADE
Department of Psychology, University of Dundee, SCOTLAND
n.j.wade AT dundee.ac.uk

The Burndy Library was founded by Bern Dibner in 1936, and has grown into a remarkable research resource for historians of science. We are celebrating its move to the Huntington Library at San Marino. Dibner also assembled an impressive portrait collection of scientific worthies from the past. His fascination with the history of science was encapsulated in his book Heralds of Science, in which a selection of two hundred items from his collection were classified under the headings of Astronomy, Botany, Chemistry, Electricity and Magnetism, General Science, Geology, Mathematics, Medicine, Physics, Technology, and Zoology. I will try to combine Dibner’s delights in history and in portraiture by presenting ‘perceptual portraits’ of scientists from his collection under the headings he provided: they tend to meld title pages or frontispieces of books with portraits of their authors, but a range of other motifs are also embraced. The deliberations of the scientists were not restricted to the categories Dibner assigned them to; many made observations on vision, optics and the brain, and it is these aspects of their endeavours that will be emphasised.

Invited Lecture.  
Friday, 22 June 2007, 1:00 - 2:00 pm

ISHN 2007 Annual Meeting -- Abstracts

Last updated 18 June 2007