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Rev Neurol. 2002 May 1-15;34(9):877-92.

[Neuroscience in Al Andalus and its influence on medieval scholastic medicine].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Servicio de Neurología; Hospital Central del Aire, Madrid, 28027, España. amartina@medynet.com

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Since the application of technical medicine by the Greeks, modern neurology has been based on a body of knowledge and cultural heritage from ancient times. In this paper we review the contribution made by Al Andalus to neuroscience during the Middle Ages and its repercussions on modern neurology.

DEVELOPMENT:

Following the death of Mohammed in the vii century AD, Islam enjoyed one of the most spectacular periods of expansion in the history of mankind. Occupation of the cities of Alexandria and Gundishapur put the Arabs into contact with original Greco Latin manuscripts, which were assimilated and divulged by Islamic scientists in the middle eastern caliphates of Damascus and Bagdad as well as the western caliphates of Al Andalus (Spain) and Kairwan (Tunis). This classical hippocratico galenico medicine was refashioned into the so called arabized galenism, which markedly influenced the Scholastics and the cultured world of the lower Middle Ages and became the basis of European medicine until well into the Renaissance period. There was a first Spanish cultural Renaissance in Al Andalus during the ix xii centuries, which led to a flowering unheard of in the Middle Ages before then. Andalusian doctors made major contributions to the body of knowledge about neuroscience and developed major philosophical concepts of human understanding. Thus, Abulcasis (936 1013), the father of modern surgery, developed material and technical designs which are still used in neurosurgery. Averroes suggested the existence of Parkinson s syndrome and attributed photoreceptor properties to the retina. Avenzoar described meningitis, intracranial thrombophlebitis, mediastinal tumours and made contributions to modern neuropharmacology. Maimonides wrote about neuropsychiatric disorders and described rabies and belladonna intoxication.

CONCLUSION:

Aside from the political, religious and cultural differences between Al Andalus and the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula, the historical Andalusian period (711 1492) forms one of the most brilliant periods of Spanish neuroscience.

PMID:
12134355
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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