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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2006 Mar;113(3):271-82.

A short history of neurosciences in Austria.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Neurobiology, Vienna, Austria.


Based on internal medicine and psychiatry and in close connection with pathology, the neurosciences in Austria began to develop in the 18(th) century, e.g. with the description of inflammation of the central nervous system by J. P. Franck (1745-1823) and the "phrenology" by F. J. Gall (1745-1823). Under the influence of the great pathologist C. Rokitansky (1804-1878), the tripode of the Vienna neurology - L. Türck (1810-1868), as initiator, Th. v. Meynert (1833-1892) the activator, and H. Obersteiner (1847-1922) as the founder of the Vienna Neurological Institute, presented basic contributions to the morphology and pathology of the nervous system. At the end of the 19(th) and in the early 20(th) century, they were followed by important publications by S. Fred (aphasia), C. Redlich (tabes dorsalis), F. Sträussler (CNS syphilis), A. Spitzer (fiber anatomy of the brain), P. Schilder (diffuse sclerosis), R. Barany (Nobel price for physiology and medicine 1914), J. Wagner v. Jauregg (Nobel price for medicine, 1927), O. Loewi (Nobel Price for Physiology and Medicine together with Sir H. Dale, 1936), A. Schüller (histiocytosis X), C. v. Economo (encephalitis lethargica and cytoarchitectonics of the human cerebral cortex), E. Pollak (Wilson disease), E. Gamper (mesencephalic subject), J. Gerstmann (Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome and Gerstmann parietal syndrome), H. Hoff with L. Schönbauer (brain tumors and surgery), and others. Major research institutions were the departments of psychiatry I and II at the University of Vienna School of Medicine (foundation 1870), unification 1911, separation into departments of neurology, psychiatry and neuropsychiatry of children and adolescents in 1971), the Obersteiner Institute in Vienna (foundation 1882, separation 1993), the university departments at Graz and Innsbruck, both founded in 1891, and other laboratories, where renouned clinicans and neuroscientists, like O. Marburg, H. Hoff, O. Pötzl, O. Kauders, F. Seitelberger, H. Tschabitscher, K. Weingarten, H. Reisner,W. Birkmayer, H. Petsche, F. Gerstenbrand, H. Bernheimer, H. W. Heiss, H. Lassmann, W. Poewe, L. Deecke, and many of their associates produced important contributions to wide areas of modern neurosciences. Important for the future are the foundation of the Institute of Brain Research at Vienna Medical University and of the Austrian Society of Neurology which will give further impact for the future progress of neuroscience research in Austria and its integration into the international science community.

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