Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 147–157 | Cite as

Historical Perspectives on Ancient Greek Derived “a” Prefixed Nomenclature for Acquired Neurocognitive Impairment

Review

Abstract

Distinct forms of acquired neurocognitive impairment are often described by “a” prefixed terms that derive from ancient Greek (and in one case Latin). Two modern English language neurological and neuropsychological reference books were searched to identify 17 such terms in contemporary usage: amnesia, akinesia, ataxia, aphasia, agraphia, anosmia, apraxia, athetosis, ageusia, achromatopsia, agnosia, alexia, amusia, anomia, anarthria, anosognosia, and acalculia. These were traced to their initial association with acquired neurocognitive impairment in German, English, and French language medical publications from the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries (1770 through 1920). Some of these terms (e.g., agnosia) were used in ancient Greek, although not associated with neurocognitive impairment. The remainder constitute novel semantically plausible (e.g., anosmia) and unclear (e.g., alexia) formulations. In the localizationist thinking of the time, neurocognition was conceived as being organized within specialized “centers” in specific locations connected by pathways within the brain.

Keywords

Nineteenth century neurology Medical terminology Neuropsychological impairment History of clinical neuropsychology History of neurocognition 

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological ScienceUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA

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