Re-examining Paul Broca's initial presentation of M. Leborgne: Understanding the impetus for brain and language research

Applied Linguistics and Communication, School of Social Science, History and Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London, UK.
Cortex (Impact Factor: 5.13). 07/2011; 47(10):1228-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2011.06.022
Source: PubMed


The 150th anniversary affords an opportunity to revisit the circumstances surrounding Paul Broca's case report celebrated today as the moment of discovery of aphasia. The proceedings from January to June 1861 of the Paris Society of Anthropology are examined to reconstruct the events surrounding the report of M. Leborgne on April 18th. From a close reading of the presentations and discussions which took place during this period it is apparent that Broca's case report was a minor diversion to a debate about cranial measurements and their relation to intelligence in individuals and racial groups. Moreover, it appears that little attention was granted to Broca's first case at the time. While his ideas about localization and specialization developed and change over the next decade, it represented a minor field of interest for him. Nevertheless Broca's work on aphasia inspired research throughout Europe and North America and went on to have a lasting impact on both aphasiology and neuropsychology.

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    • "The clinico-anatomical correlation method celebrates 150 years since Paul Broca brought it to existence in his seminal publication (Broca, 1861; Cubelli and De Bastiani, 2011; Lorch, 2011). To this day the method is still based on the circular reasoning that allows brain function to be inferred by studying the correspondence between clinical manifestations and lesion location. "
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