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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2023 December;67(6):767-72

DOI: 10.23736/S0390-5616.22.05696-X

Copyright © 2022 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Bartolomeo Panizza (1785-1867) and his contribution to the discovery of the visual cortex

Paolo PERRINI 1, 2 , Davide T. DI CARLO 1, 2, Arianna FAVA 2, Nicola MONTEMURRO 1

1 Department of Neurosurgery, AOUP Pisana, Pisa, Italy; 2 Department of Translational Research and New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, Pisa University Hospital, Pisa, Italy



Bartolomeo Panizza (1785-1867) was an eminent anatomist and a pupil of Antonio Scarpa (1752-1832) at the University of Pavia. In 1855, before the revolutionary studies of Paul Broca (1824-1880) on aphasia that supported the theory of cortical localizations, Panizza delivered a lecture in Milan on the anatomy of the visual system, Osservazioni sul Nervo Ottico (“Observations on the optic nerve”). This lecture contains the first description of the cortical projection of the visual pathways in the occipital lobe, anticipating the revolutionary studies performed by Hermann Munk (1839-1912) in the late 19th century. The findings of Panizza questioned the assumption of the French physiologist, Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (1794-1867) who was defending the holistic concept of cerebral equipotentiality, which was widely accepted among the scientific community in the early 19th century. The present essay highlights the life and the scientific studies of Bartolomeo Panizza, with emphasis on the issue of cerebral localization that was simmering in the scientific community at that time.


KEY WORDS: History of medicine; Visual cortex; Visual pathways

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