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History of Neurology
November 2000

Bartolomeo Panizza and the Discovery of the Brain's Visual Center

Author Affiliations

From the Institute of Neurology, IRCCS Maggiore Hospital, University of Milan Medical School, Milan (Drs Zago, Scarlato, and Silani), and University of Padua, Padua (Dr Nurra), Italy.



Arch Neurol. 2000;57(11):1642-1648. doi:10.1001/archneur.57.11.1642

In his work entitled "Osservazioni sul nervo ottico" (Observations on the Optic Nerve) published in 1855, Bartolomeo Panizza macroscopically traced the visual projection from the optic nerve to the cerebral structures, establishing the posterior cortex as the center for vision. This achievement was largely ignored by Panizza's contemporaries, and many years passed before his research was accorded the credit it deserved. This article provides both a profile of this eminent anatomo-physiologist and a historical reconstruction of the troubled course of his pioneering observations on the central pathway of the optic nerve.