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Convolutions and asymmetries of the brain
  1. J M S PEARCE
  1. 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, Hull, East Yorkshire HU10 7BG, UK

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    The “coils” of the brain are considered to have been first noted by Praxagoras of Cos c300 BC, and by Erasistratus c260 BC, who noted a resemblance to the coils of the intestines. Vesalius likened them to clouds and noted their presence and their rough similarity in the ass, horse, and ox.1 Thomas Willis attempted to correlate the organisation of the convolutions with intelligence, and believed that: “movement is initiated in the cerebrum, convolutions and gyrations provide a more commodious area for (expansion of the animal spirits) in the use of memory and phantasy.”2 He also stressed that the brain’s workings were mediated by the brain parenchyma and not, as previously held, by the ventricles. This was a fundamentally new idea, escaping the vague notions of the brain as affected by the humours and functioning by means of defined animal forces or spiritus animalis. Francois Leuret, 1797–1851, born in Nancy, France, was an impecunious “scrawny” boy …

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