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Neurosurgery. 2010 Sep;67(3):799-809; discussion 809-10. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000383135.92953.A3.

The birth and evolution of neuroscience through cadaveric dissection.

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Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, The Neurological Institute, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Although interest in the art of dissection and vivisection has waxed and waned throughout the ages, the past century has seen it accepted as commonplace in medical schools across the country. No other practice in medicine has contributed more to the understanding of neuroanatomy and the neurosciences as dissection of the human cadaver, the origins of which are widely documented to have been in Alexandrian Greece. This article chronicles the fascinating and often controversial use of dissection and vivisection in these fields through the ages, beginning with Herophilus of Alexandria, among the first systematic dissectors in the history of Western medicine. The authors comment on its role in the development of modern neurosurgery and conclude with remarks about use of this educational tool today in the United States.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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