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The hippocampus and its relations to the corpus callosum

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THE HIPPOCAMPUS AND ITS RELATIONS TO THE CORPUS CALLOSUM FREDERICK TILNEY, M.D. 1. Although many picturesque and useful anatomical names have been the fruit of Renaissance ingenuity, such adventures in nomenelature ,'lere not always happy. Often enough the resurgent imagination was allowed too loose a rein. The term hippocampus, first applied in 1587 by Julius Caesar Arantius to a widely discussed region of the brain, is a notable case in point. Since the time of Arantius' suggestion no one has been able to discover any resemblance, striking or remote, between the part of the brain so labelled and the little sea-horse fish knmvn as hippocampus. Frederick Lewis goes so far as to say that "the flight of fancy which led Arantius to introduce the term, hippocampus is recorded in what is perhaps the worst anatomical description extant." Not only is this original description of the hippocampus thoroughly unsatisfactory, but the effect of such a name applied to cerebral structures has resulted in unnecessary confusion. Yet, in fairness to Arantius, it must be said that he was not too strongly biased in his proposal. A quotation from his brief chapter on this subject shows a considerable degree of openn"lindedness. "This recalls the image of a Hippocampus, that is, of a little sea-horse. Rather, perhaps, it suggests the form of a white silk- worm (Bombycinus vermis)." On the basis of structural similarity there is little to recommend either hippocampus or bombyx. It was some whim of popular favor rather then any insistency on the part of Arantius which preserved one term and discarded the other, for, whatever its faults, hippo- campus has now received the approval of almost universal usage. 1 1 I am indebted to Doctor Samuel W. Lambert for the following translation of Arantius' description of the hippocampus, which under the title of "De cerebri par- ticulis Hippocampum referentibus" appears in Arantius. De humane foetu .... Ejusdem anatomicorum observationum Jiber,

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