, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 1353-1355
Date: 06 Apr 2011

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772): pioneer of neuroanatomy


Emanuel Swedenborg is widely accredited for his religious fervor and devout dedication to his spirituality. He spearheaded the creation of what is known today as the New Jerusalem Church. However, Swedenborg also served as a prominent figure in the European Enlightenment, making noteworthy strides in the fields of mathematics and science. His acumen for science instilled in the medical world groundbreaking ideas that would forever innovate the practice of medicine. Not only did Swedenborg describe intricacies of the cerebral cortex but he also discovered the perivascular spaces, the foramen of Magendie, and the cerebrospinal fluid. He noted the importance of the pituitary gland or “arch gland” in maintaining normal neurological function. Lastly, in a period where the cortex was given no significant function, Swedenborg developed the idea of somatotopic organization, and this was almost 100 years prior to Fritsch and Hitzig. It is on the shoulders of such great pioneers as Emanuel Swedenborg that we base our current understanding of the nervous system.