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May 1985

Cerebral Dominance

Arch Neurol. 1985;42(5):427. doi:10.1001/archneur.1985.04060050025007

The concept of cerebral dominance for speech was first proposed by Dax in 1836. However, the credit for the concept is rightly accorded to Broca with his series of clinical and anatomic correlations culminating in his now famous dictum in 1864, "We speak with the left hemisphere." Interestingly, the idea of localization of a brain function was appealing. It was a time when a new look at biology was taking place. Pasteur was revising our ideas about the origins of disease, and Darwin and Wallace were

See also pp 428 and 500.

exploring the origins of humans. However, Broca ran into trouble with his notion of lateralization, that is, a symmetrical organ with a special function assigned to one half. The hoary biological law of "organic duality with functional unity" was invoked. This argument dissipated as the evidence for left hemisphere localization of language accrued with almost no exceptions. Within