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September 1968

Brown-Séquard Syndrome

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC
From the Divisions of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Arch Neurol. 1968;19(3):347. doi:10.1001/archneur.1968.00480030125015

THE BROWN-SEQUARD syndrome represents a turning point in the history of neurophysiology.1-3 Before Charles Edouard Brown-Séquard performed his classical experiments in the mid-19th century, the doctrines of Sir Charles Bell were dominant and all sensory impulses were believed to ascend the spinal cord ipsilaterally in the posterior column. Crossing to the opposite side was believed to occur only when the sensory impulses reached the brain.

Brown-Séquard, the son of a Frenchwoman and an American sea captain, pursued his career as a physician and investigator mainly in Paris but also in the United States. By demonstrating that hemisection of the cord in animals produces sensory loss on the opposite side of the body with retention of sensation on the ipsilateral side, he challenged the idea that the posterior column is the sole sensory pathway and provided concrete evidence of sensory decussation in the spinal cord.

Observation of human cases of

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