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In and Out of the Central Nervous System 

In and Out of the Central Nervous System
In and Out of the Central Nervous System

Michael J. Aminoff

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date: 18 August 2018

In 1811, Bell had printed privately a monograph titled Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain. In it, Bell correctly showed that the anterior but not the posterior roots had motor functions. François Magendie subsequently showed that the anterior roots were motor, and the posterior roots were sensory. This led to a dispute about priority during which Bell republished some of his early work with textual alterations to support his claims. Bell was involved in a similar dispute with Herbert Mayo concerning the separate functions of the fifth (sensory) and seventh (motor) cranial nerves, and Mayo today is a forgotten man. In both instances, Bell deserves credit for the concepts and initial experimental approach, and Magendie and Mayo deserve credit for obtaining and correctly interpreting the definitive experimental findings.

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