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The signalling contributions of Constantin von Economo to basic, clinical and evolutionary neuroscience

Brain Research Bulletin
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2006.02.001
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Cytoarchitectonics
  • Cortical Localisation
  • Progressive Cerebration
  • Brain Evolution
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Medicine


Abstract The study, and the companion article that follows, reviews the entire spectrum of the epoch-making contributions of Constantin von Economo (1876–1931) to basic, clinical and evolutionary Neuroscience. An astute observer and avid writer, von Economo left marks of brilliance on fundamental areas of brain research through an exuberant record of publications dating from 1899 to 1932. His ingenious medical career began with the histological study of the developing pigeon and chick hypophysis, and culminated with bold propositions about the neuroanatomy of talent and the future evolution of the human brain. On the way, he made the seminal discovery of encephalitis lethargica (‘von Economo disease’), and produced, with Georg N. Koskinas (1885–1975), one of the masterpieces of brain science, the 1925 Cytoarchitectonics of the Adult Human Cerebral Cortex, defining 107 cortical areas on the basis of cytoarchitectonic criteria. His untimely death at age 55, barely 5.5 months after inaugurating his new Brain Research Institute in Vienna, deprived the Neuroscience world of one of its brightest protagonists during the 20th century. An annotated total of 139 scientific works by von Economo have been identified. The present study covers the 76 works on brain structure, evolution and intelligence, and general works on nervous and mental pathology, with the complete bibliographic information. The companion article covers the remaining 63 works on encephalitis lethargica and sleep regulation.

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