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March 1941


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University Medical School.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1941;25(3):401-411. doi:10.1001/archopht.1941.00870090025002

Fifty years ago, on May 30, 1890, a Viennese ophthalmologist, Ludwig Mauthner, announced in an informal communication before the Vienna Medical Society an original conception of the mechanism of sleep.1 The disease now known as epidemic lethargic encephalitis was then radiating from northern Italy to the adjacent Austrian provinces Mauthner remarked that all chronic forms of sleeping sickness in com mon have as a complication ptosis and ocular muscle paralysis and macroscopically show engorgement of the walls of the third ventricle and the sylvian aqueduct. Hence he conceived that physiologic sleep depends on a temporary suspension of function of the periventricular gray matter which thus interrupts conduction both to and from the cortex. The drooping of the lids in drowsiness and the simultaneous diplopia, according to his theory, indicate that the innervational disturbance of sleep extends to the adjacent oculomotor nuclei. Mauthner's notion of a sleep regulation center was

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