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Cortex CerebriPerformance, Structural and Functional Organisation of the Cortex$
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O. D. Creutzfeldt

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198523246

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198523246.001.0001

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Historical introduction

Historical introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Historical introduction
Source:
Cortex Cerebri
Author(s):

O.D. Creutzfeldt

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198523246.003.0001

This chapter provides a historical perspective to systematic scientific research on the cerebral cortex. The significance of the cerebral cortex for the higher integrative and intellectual functions of the brain was not clearly recognized until the second half of the nineteenth century. In fact, systematic scientific research on the cerebral cortex did not begin until about 1870. However, in 1792 the anatomist Franz Josef Gall, under the influence of romantic psychology with its interest in characterology and physiognomy, had already hypothesized that certain ‘psychological qualities’ were located in specific areas of the cerebral cortex. This idea contradicted the established doctrine, originating with Rene Descartes and based on philosophy rather than on anatomy, which located the soul as a unified function in the pineal gland. Although none of these speculations had a sound anatomical basis, Gall's phrenology was a step in the right direction. At the centre of Gall's hypothesis was the conviction that intellectual and moral powers were located in certain regions of the surface of the brain.

Keywords:   cerebral cortex, physiognomy, phrenology, characterology, anatomical distinction, cortical areas

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