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Letters to the Editor
July 2002

In reply

Arch Neurol. 2002;59(7):1203-1204. doi:

Drs Wahlund, Andersen, and Östberg have made a valuable contribution in clarifying who said what about the terms Pick bodies and ballooned neurons. We apologize for having not gone back to the original German literature.

A more important point, though, is their comment about terminology. Terminology for groups of diseases has always been a vexing problem in neurology. In some instances, we use terms such as Alzheimer disease or Parkinson disease that refer to a particular scientist. We now recognize that there are heterogeneous groups of patients included within these descriptions. As we learn more about the genetics of these diseases, we realize that even though they may have common phenotypes, the genetically determined subpopulations can be quite different. In other instances, we describe diseases by what parts of the nervous system are involved; thus, we talk about cerebellar ataxias or peripheral neuropathies.

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