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On the Networks of the Brain Believed to Be Similar to the Reticular Plexus and the Placenta 

On the Networks of the Brain Believed to Be Similar to the Reticular Plexus and the Placenta
Chapter:
On the Networks of the Brain Believed to Be Similar to the Reticular Plexus and the Placenta
Author(s):

Marco Catani

and Stefano Sandrone

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199383832.003.0024
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date: 18 May 2021

This chapter more than the others represents a direct attack to the idea that was at the heart of Galen’s doctrine. Galen believed that the pituitary gland (chapter 11) was embedded in a net of arteries and veins called the rete mirabile. Here the vital spirit conveyed through the ‘sleep’ (carotid) arteries is transformed into the animal spirit, before then flowing through the ventricles and nerves to peripheral organs. Vesalius’ decision to depart from this speculation is potentially driven by an observation made at the dissection table: humans do not have a rete mirabile. Galen’s limited chance for direct human dissection meant he took his observation from another mammal, probably a pig, an ox or a sheep. He then applied what he saw directly to humans. In the book three of the Fabrica, Vesalius refutes the existence of a rete mirabile in man, despite its presence in other animals.

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