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August 1996

Gustave Dax and the Early History of Cerebral Dominance

Author Affiliations
From the Department of Psychology (Dr Finger and Mr Roe), Program in Neural Sciences (Dr Finger), and Program in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (Dr Finger), Washington University, St Louis, Mo.
Arch Neurol. 1996;53(8):806-813. doi:10.1001/archneur.1996.00550080132021

In 1863, 2 years before Paul Broca published his heralded paper on the special role of the left hemisphere in speech, Gustave Dax sent a paper to the Académie de Médecine in Paris, France. His lengthy submission included an insightful memoir presumably written by his father Marc in 1836 and supportive material that he had collected himself. The present article examines the events leading to Gustave's 1863 submission to the Académie. It also presents an English translation of the negative response that this paper received and a translation of the short article that Gustave published in 1865. These materials help to show how cerebral dominance was first discovered, how it was made public, and how the first advocates of the concept were judged by their contemporaries.