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Surv Ophthalmol. 2007 Jul-Aug;52(4):443-51.

Edme Mariotte (1620-1684): Pioneer of Neurophysiology.

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Department of History of Medicine, Karol Marcinkowski University Medical School in Poznań, Poland.


Edme Mariotte, a Roman Catholic priest and a founding member of l'Académie des sciences de Paris in 1666, is mainly remembered as the first scientist to discover the blind spot, known as Mariotte's Spot, in visual fields. His extensive work on optics and color perception is less well remembered. In addition, he made other important discoveries in different areas of science such as physics, mechanics, hydraulics, optics, plant physiology, meteorology, surveying, and research methodology. Mariotte was an active experimenter whose experimental principles separated science from metaphysics. His work was known to many of his fellow great scientists of his day, including Newton and Descartes, and his lengthy correspondence was a pioneering form of scientific international cooperation. Mariotte's observations, experiments, and demonstration of the blind spot led to a lively debate in the scientific community as to its explanation. Although he falsely assumed that it was the choroid, not the retina, that was the site of perception in the eye, he may be considered as a forerunner of neuro-ophthalmology due to his experiments and interest in the fundus.

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