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J Hist Neurosci. 1997 Dec;6(3):264-74.

Theodor Meynert (1833-1892), pioneer and visionary of brain research.


Theodor Meynert (1833-1892) was the first scientist to perceive brain research as an interdisciplinary project, documented by his own fundamental contributions as a selfstanding enterprise and presented with comprehensive objectives of research. Meynert was born in Dresden and lived in Vienna from the age of 8. In a steep career, he reached high professional recognition: Aged 37, he took charge of the management of the 1st Psychiatric Clinic, established especially for him; he exerted competent influence in the so-called 2nd Viennese School of Medicine and at international level. The focal points of his scientific work have been anatomy and histology of cerebrum and brainstem, topography and functional relations of the main connecting fiber systems, also demonstrated by precisely interpreted clinipathological obaservations. Among his timely findings should be stressed: the stratified texture, cellular architecture and regional differentiation of the cerebral cortex as a basis of present cytoarchitectonics and of cortical localisation theory, e.g., regarding speech defects. Intending to establish psychiatry as an exact science on the basis of brain pathology, Meynert formulated a program which anticipates the targets designed by today's biological psychiatry. The vital and psychic dynamics of the brain he interpreted in critical speculation along the lines of the contemporary philosophy of nature. Meynert combined his ingenious exact findings with results of the upcoming neurophysiology, neurochemistry and neuropsychology into a prodigious coherent system representing the complexity of the human brain-world relationship. These achievements reveal Meynert as the founder of scientific brain research.

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