Korbinian Brodmann studied medicine in Munich, Würzburg, Berlin, and Freiburg im Breisgau, and received his license to practice medicine in For a year. Korbinian Brodmann was a German neurologist who became famous for his definition of the cerebral cortex into 52 distinct regions from their cytoarchitectonic . Korbinian Brodmann was born in Liggersdorf (Hohenzollern, Germany) on November 17, Though of humble origin—his father Joseph.

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The authors have no personal financial or institutional interest in any of the drugs, materials, or korbiniwn described in this article. Korbinian Brodmann is best remembered for krbinian classification of cortical areas based on cytoarchitechture. Many of his areas have bromdann on to be associated with various nervous functions such as hearing areas 41 and 42 and vision areas 17 and Few textbooks of neurology, neuroanatomy, or neurosurgery fail to mention the important maps produced by Brodmann that are still used today.

The present article discusses the life and influence of Korbinian Brodmann on our understanding of the human brain. InKorbinian Brodmann Figure 1 published a monograph that continues to guide the study of neuroscience even today. Few physicians are unfamiliar with many of the areas of the cerebral cortex as defined by Brodmann in the early 20th century.

Many researchers have built on his ideas, but Brodmann’s original work has yet to be replaced. His influential life not only was relatively short but also was marred by underappreciation. He struggled his entire career to find a secure position suitable for a researcher of his stature.

Despite these obstacles, he managed to contribute research so significant that it has become an integral part of today’s medical education and neuroscience research. However, there is very little in the English literature regarding the life of this man whose expertise spanned neurology, psychiatry, physiology, zoology, and anthropology. He attended Gymnasium in Sigmaringen and ultimately graduated from Gymnasium in Korbimian. He began his medical career in by studying medicine at brodmqnn universities of Munich, Wurzburg, Berlin, and Freiburg.

Brodmann spent the summer of korbinnian from a bout of diphtheria and working as an assistant at the private Neurobiologische Zentralstation Neurological Clinic focused on nervous diseases in Alexanderbad im Brodjann northern Bavaria. He received his Promotion in after the successful defense of his thesis regarding chronic ependymal sclerosis.

Photograph of Brodmann and several colleagues. During his brief stint in Frankfurt, he met Alois Alzheimer, and this relationship proved crucial in sparking Brodmann’s interest in the neuroanatomical foundations of neurology and psychiatry. He remained in Frankfurt only untilbut this period proved essential in shaping his future successes.

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The same year that Brodmann received his Promotion in Leipzig, Oskar Vogt began creating his multidisciplinary brain research institute, the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut fur Hirnforschung in Berlin-Buch Neurobiologisches Institutwith divisions for neuroanatomy, neurohistology, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and genetics. The relationships he formed in Frankfurt proved useful at the Neurobiological Institute in that he used new histological staining techniques developed by Weigert — and Korbinlan — to organize the cerebral cortex topographically.

Nissl would go on to work with Brodmann, and his experiences with neurohistology and staining techniques, influenced by Weigert, would propel Brodmann’s research. Before Brodmann’s research, Berlin, who was Meynert’s pupil, had described the 6 layers of the human cortex based on cell shape and size. Between andhe published a series of 7 communications on comparative mammalian over 64 different species cytoarchitectonics.

Title page of Brodmann’s Vergleichende Lokalisationslehre der Grosshirnrinde in ihren Prinzipien dargestellt iorbinian Grund des Zellenbaues. While working with the Vogts, Brodmann submitted a habilitation regarding the cytoarchitectural division of the prosimian cortex vrodmann the medical faculty in Berlin at the suggestion of Emil Kraepelin. Habilitation is the academic qualification conferred on individuals who have received a doctoral degree and submitted an additional thesis that then allowed them to become a Privatdozent Private Docentwhich was requisite for becoming a tenured university professor.


Brodmann’s habilitation was inexplicably rejected by Berlin’s faculty, which prevented him from acquiring a secure professorship. The Medical Faculty in Berlin thereby carry great guilt on their shoulders. In his free time, he set up his own brain anatomy research laboratory Figure 5.

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Walther Spielmeyer applauded Pfieffer for recognizing Brodmann’s abilities and need for security: Their first child, Isle, was born in Microtome used by Brodmann in making sections through the cerebral cortexes of animals and humans. Kraepelin had formed a powerful collaboration by inviting both Brodmann and Nissl because he saw the importance of neurohistology and cytoarchitectonics in the future of neuroanatomical research Figure 6.

Just at the moment when he had begun to live a very happy family life and when, after years of interruption because of war work, he was able to take up his research activities again in independent and distinguished circumstances, just at the moment when his friends were looking forward to a new era of successful research from him, a devastating infection snatched him away after a short illness, on 22 August An intense worker, Brodmann was noted to be making writing motions with his finger before dying.

Even though Brodmann died before the age of 50, most physicians are familiar with his work that created a topographical map of the human cortex. In humans, he identified 47 histologically distinct regions using novel staining techniques introduced by Nissl, and in primates, he described 52 different regions. At the time, there were 3 schools of thought for mapping the brain contributed to by such men as Meynert, Betz, Ferrier, Kaes, Bechterew, Edinger, Flechsig, Lewis, Clarke, and Hammarberg.

Brodmann believed there was little evidence for cell type determining function and was even more adamantly opposed to assigning functions to specific layers. He said, “These [associations of individual layers with specific functions], and all similar expressions that one encounters repeatedly today, especially in the psychiatric and neurological literature, are utterly devoid of any factual basis; they are purely arbitrary fictions and only destined to cause confusion in uncertain minds.

The third school of thought, of which Brodmann was a supporter, was somewhat of a hybrid of the first two. It claimed that regions of the brain that contained similar structures in both layering and cell type could produce specific functions: Moreover, he was keen to relate neurohistology to stimulation studies of other researchers of his day.

Critics have claimed that too much credit is given to Brodmann’s work because it lacked a focus on functionality.

Some scholars, however, believe his monograph, Histological Studies on the Localization of Cerebral Functionto be the first monumental work on cytoarchitectonics. The work described 17 regions of the cortex, each tied to specific functions such as vision, sensation, and olfaction. Despite the strictly anatomic nature of his work, Brodmann did value function and hoped a topographical map like his would lay the foundation for an understanding of brain functionality.

Korbinian Brodmann

The significantly larger number of areas defined by Bromdann compared with Campbell may be evidence for an appreciation of exquisite complexity of the human brain and the subsequent decision to initially focus solely on cytoarchitectural work. Furthermore, criticism of Brodmann’s supposed lack of interest in functional neuroanatomy seems unjust because his career was cut short after korbihian initial publications.

Whatever the case may be, evidence for the realization of his ultimate goal is given by the regular associations of several areas with discrete functions. Specifically, areas 4 and 17 are associated with the primary motor and visual cortexes, respectively. Such discoveries by Brodmann would be used as references for continued study of cytoarchitecture such as those made by Constantin Von Economo — and his subsequent publication on this topic in An underappreciation of Brodmann’s talents made laying the foundation for this functional localization difficult.


Walther Spielmeyer, who worked with Brodmann at the Psychiatric Research Institute, indicated Brpdmann marginalization inclaiming. If we look at [Brodmann’s] career, we are painfully aware that little provision was made in German universities for a researcher of Brodmann’s stature…Until his 48th year Brodmann had to be content with subordinate posts that in no way corresponded to his importance, and he watched with some bitterness as officious mediocrity led to the most distinguished posts while he, the successful and recognized researcher, in spite of all his lack of pretension, could never attain the most modest permanent university position.

The rejection of Brodmann’s habilitation by the medical faculty in Berlin was just one example of how he was marginalized in his field, making funding for his research scarce. With his persistence, however, his goal was realized; the data he produced made it possible for today’s researchers to associate specific functions with many of his described cortical areas.

We are very thankful to the staff at the Korbinian Brodmann museum in Hohenfels, Lake Constance County, Germany, for their kindness in providing korbknian images of Professor Brodmann and his laboratory. Loukas et al outline the contributions of Korbinian Brodmann to the modern understanding of the structure and function of the brain.

This nicely written work describes the life and times of a man whose name is now intimately associated with the organization of the brain. It is interesting to note that, although we now refer to Dr Brodmann’s areas on a routine basis when discussing brain function, during his lifetime Dr Brodmann was grossly underappreciated and his contributions denigrated.

This article sheds some light on how Dr Brodmann thought and what motivated him to parcel brain regions on the basis of subtle cytoarchitectural differences. One of the more interesting facets of this paper is precisely why he was repeatedly ignored and belittled by contemporary German iorbinian. Unfortunately, the reader is left to ponder that point: Was it simply because he did not believe in self-promotion?

Was it because his ideas were so radically different from the conventional wisdom of the day? Was it due to personal differences with influential academics? Or were there other factors not mentioned in the article? It is interesting that in a life hampered by such a lack of support and cut short by an untimely krobinian, Dr Brodmann could still make such an enduring contribution to science. All in all, this is a clearly written and beautifully illustrated summary of Korbinian Brodmann’s life and work.

The authors are to be commended for it. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Close mobile search navigation Article navigation. NeurosurgeryVolume brdmann, Issue 1, 1 JanuaryPages 6—11, https: Abstract Korbinian Brodmann is best remembered for his classification of cortical brodann based on cytoarchitechture.

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