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Korbinian Brodmann

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Korbinian Brodmann

Korbinian Brodmann (November 17, 1868 - August 22, 1918) was a German neurologist who became famous for his definition of the cerebral cortex into 52 distinct regions from their cytoarchitectonic (histological) characteristics. These areas are now usually referred to as Brodmann areas. Some of these areas were later associated to nervous functions, such as areas 41 and 42 in the temporal lobe (related to hearing), areas 1, 2 and 3 in the postcentral gyrus of the parietal lobe (the somatosensory region), and the areas 17 and 18 in the occipital lobe (the primary visual areas).

Brodmann studied medicine in Munich, Würzburg, Berlin and Freiburg, where he received his medical diploma in 1895. Subsequently he studied at the Medical School in the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and then worked in the University Clinic in Munich. He got a doctoral degree in the University of Leipzig in 1858, with a thesis on chronical ependymal sclerosis. He worked also in the Psychiatric Clinic in the University of Jena, with Ludwig Binswanger, and in the Municipal Mental Asylum in Frankfurt, from 1900 to 1901. There, he met Alois Alzheimer, who was influential in his decision to pursue neuroscientific basic research.

Following this, Brodmann started to work in 1901 with Oskar Vogt in the private institute "Neurobiologischen Zentralstation" in Berlin, and in 1902 in the Neurobiological Laboratory of the University of Berlin. In 1915 he joined the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Hirnforschung (Institute for Brain Research).

In 1909 he published his original research on cortical cytoarchitectonics in "Vergleichende Lokalisationslehre der Großhirnrinde in ihren Prinzipien dargestellt auf Grund des Zellenbaues" (Comparative Localization Studies in the Brain Cortex, its Fundamentals Represented on the Basis of its Cellular Architecture).

In the following years he worked at the University of Tübingen, where he was habilitated and made a full professor in 1913, and from 1910 to 1916 as physician and chairman of the Anatomical Laboratory at the University Psychiatric Clinic. In 1916 he moved to Halle in order to work in the Nietleben Municipal Hospital. Finally, in 1918, he accepted an invitation from the University of Munich to direct the group of histology at Psychiatric Research Center.

He died in Munich rather suddenly of a generalized septicemia following a pneumonia, barely under 50 years of age on August 22, 1918.

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