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January 11, 1995

In the Eye's Mind: Vision and the Helmholtz-Hering Controversy

Author Affiliations

Pennsylvania Hospital Philadelphia

JAMA. 1995;273(2):168-169. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520260090040

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In the Eye's Mind discusses the controversies regarding vision between Herman von Helmholtz and Ewald Hering that took place between 1840 and 1920. These two German physicians, pioneers and giants in the fields of physiological optics and visual physiology, were founders of schools of research and teaching in Germany at a time when there was a highly competitive atmosphere setting the stage for a rapid expansion of knowledge in all scientific fields.

This book centers around their research and, from this, their interpretation of vision, especially visual or spatial perception and color vision. Helmholtz invented the ophthalmoscope in 1851. This, and his research in muscle metabolism and conservation of energy, established him as the Wunderkind of German science and medicine. His genius expressed itself in physiology, physiological optics, and physics.

Hering is best remembered in ophthalmology for his research and investigation into oculomotor physiology and his law of reciprocal innervation

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