Thursday, September 2, 2021

Foundation of neuroanatomy

The first written description of the cerebral cortex and the first indications that the site of brain injury can determine the nature of neurological symptoms are found in the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. It was written in about 1700 BC.

The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of Samos (c. 572-490 B.C.) said that the function of the brain is reasoning.

It was the Greek philosopher Alcmaeon who first understood that it is not the heart, but the brain in charge of human body and the senses. Alcmaeon’s work dates to the 5th century BC. Alcmaeon of Croton considered to be a student of Pythagoras, was the pioneer of anatomical dissection. He identified the Eustachian tube and recognized brain processes such as sensation, movement and thought.

The Philosopher Anaxagoras of Klazomenai (Asia Minor) (c. 500-428 B.C.), Socrates’ professor, later identified the lateral brain ventricles and considered that brain is the seat of thought and soul, and the origin of the nerves.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was perhaps the first person to report the existence of brain cavities, particularly those located in each cerebral hemisphere. He pointed the presence of a small hole in the center of the brain in most of the animals he studied.

Herophilus din Calcedonia (335-280 B.C.) the ventricles to be the seat of the soul, intelligence and mental functions and he is considered the first anatomist who made a distinction between the main cerebral ventricles. He focused on the 4th ventricle, probably due to its proximity to medulla and motor nerves.

A founder of the principles of observations in science, and an exponent of measurements in medicine, his accurate dissections resulted in original anatomical discoveries. He distinguished nerves that produce voluntary motion from blood vessels, and motor from sensory nerves; the nerves of the spinal cord were directly linked to the brain.

Erasistratus of Ceos (304-250 BC), a disciple of Herophilus, proposed the ventricular theory to explain the function of the pneuma. He stated that the pneuma zoticon (spiritus vitalis), found in the blood, extended from the heart to the brain, and turned into pneuma psykhikon in the lateral ventricles, controlling structure-function relationships until traveling through the motor nerves to the muscles.

One of the most influential physicians of antiquity whose writings laid at the basis of other scholars was Galen of Pergam (Claudius Galenus, 129-200 A.D.). He promoted strongly the doctrines of Hippocrates and the School of Alexandria, and by his experience as a physician and a medical researcher he brought a series of significant contributions to neuroanatomy and neurosurgery.

Galen (130-200) described ventricular system with detail and believed in the presence of pneuma, conceived as a breath emanated from the cosmos that circulated through these cavities, serving as a mediator between body and soul.
Foundation of neuroanatomy

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