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August 1960

Early Descriptions of Aphasia

Author Affiliations

Iowa City
From the Departments of Neurology and Psychology, State University of Iowa.

Arch Neurol. 1960;3(2):205-222. doi:10.1001/archneur.1960.00450020085012

Introduction  One of the features of the spirited and prolonged discussion that followed Paul Broca's famous pathological demonstrations before the Académie de Médecine of Paris in 1861 was the "exhumation," to use the caustic term of Desire Bernard, of ancient and long-forgotten descriptions of aphasia. Thus, Jules Falret,1 in his analysis of the various clinical forms of aphasia, mentioned case reports by Johann Gesner (1770) and Alexander Crichton (1798) as being among the earliest in the field. Trousseau2 went farther back, citing the anecdotes of the elder Pliny as evidence that aphasia was known as early as the first century A.D., and quoting the comments of Schenck von Grafenberg (1585) to the effect that he had observed patients who were unable to speak because of loss of memory.The discovery of "prehistoric" case reports and references dealing with aphasia continued through the latter decades of the century and

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