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November 16, 1963

Broca and Bouillaud-Reply

JAMA. 1963;186(7):733-734. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03710070135022

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Instances of inability to speak were known to Hippocrates and to Aristotle, and for centuries before them. Jean-Baptiste Bouillaud was, however, the first to analyze speech disorder and to recognize its various mechanisms. He held that the faculty to create and articulate words, and to indicate and retain the memory of ideas, required a special center. Bouillaud described patients who, though unable to speak, were able to write, proving that their intelligence was unimpaired; he noted that other patients expressed themselves by signs, conveying their ideas with their hands, their eyes, and their facial expression. He placed the center controlling speech in the frontal lobes. His contributions from 1825 to 1848, and again in the 1860's, have not received their deserved recognition.

As early as 1839 Bouillaud said he "had not dared to determine the precise point, the precise mathematical region, in the frontal lobes as the seat of speech..."

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