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A Journal on Neurosurgery

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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2015 May 12

language: English

Impact of World War I on Brain Mapping

Shah A., Jung H., Li G.

Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California


Although much tragedy was experienced during World War I (WWI), the nature of the war and the advancements of weaponry led to a change in the quality and quantity of injuries which were conducive for study. This paper discusses how trauma during WWI led to advances in brain mapping from occipital injuries. Gordon Holmes was a British neurologist who was able to create a retinotopic map of the visual cortex from studying more than 400 cases of occipital injuries; his work has contributed immensely to our understanding of visual processing. There have been many extensions from Holmes’ work in regards to how we analyze other sensory modalities and in researching how the brain processes complex stimuli such as faces. Aside from the scholastic benefit, brain mapping also has functional use and can be used for neurosurgical planning to preserve important structures. With the advent of more advanced modalities for analyzing the brain, there have been initiatives in total brain mapping which has added significantly to the body of work started by Holmes during WWI. This paper reviews the history during WWI that led to advances in brain mapping, the lasting scholastic and functional impact from these advancements, and future improvements.

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