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Swedenborg as a Pioneer in Cerebral Localization

Erik Ask-Upmark, MD
JAMA. 1963;183(9):805-806. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700090125027.
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To the Editor:  —In the June 16, 1962, issue of The Journal (180:944), a distinguished survey of pioneers in localization of function in the brain was presented by William Gibson, Vancouver, Canada. However, he does not mention the name of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Swedenborg was an extremely diligent worker, a keen observer, and an unprejudiced man of research, able to draw conclusions far ahead of his time. His medical observations were mainly made during the years 1734-1745. Swedenborg considered the mental abilities to be localized to the cortex of the brain. This cortex was divided by sulcus Rolandi into one anterior region, mainly motoric, and one posterior region, mainly sensory. Our abilities of conception, of memory, and of thinking were localized to the anterior region. In this region, however, were also localized the centers for the voluntary innervation of the muscles. The various "sphaerulae" (so called by Malpighi and


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