March 1988

The First Neurology BookDe Cerebri Morbis... (1549) by Jason Pratensis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Arch Neurol. 1988;45(3):341-344. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520270123032

• In 1549, Jason Pratensis published De Cerebris Morbis... (DCM), the first separate book on the general subject of neurologic disease. The publication of DCM reflected two trends in 16th century medicine: (1) interest in the anatomy and function of specific organs, and (2) retranslation of the works of Galen, who emphasized the primacy of the brain in behavioral and motor functions. Brain diseases in DCM were classified in terms of symptom complexes. Some of the 33 chapters discuss tremor, tetanus, vertigo, epilepsy, and hemicrania. Concepts of diseases, and their pathogenesis and treatment, reflected the writings of Greek, Roman, and Arabic authors, as well as newer concepts of astrology and pharmacy that were prevalent during the Renaissance. There were few new bed-side or clinical observations in DCM. However, DCM is an important text, crystallizing several 16th century trends to provide the first compendium of brain disorders.