What Can We Learn from Developmental Neuropathology?

  • John T. Flynn


With this chapter, I hope to invite the interested reader with the special talents of the neuropathologist and a sense of curiosity to follow a pathway seldom trod— the systematic investigation in donor material of aspects of the developing visual system that might further elucidate the anatomical nature of the lesion in strabismus. Although a singular path, I can point to at least one contemporary area of study of this sort that has added greatly to our knowledge of a problem in some respects not unlike strabismus. Dyslexia has probably been with us since language above a grunt emerged in the human, though it has not been recognized as such. Spoken language has been in existence on the order of 100,000 years; written language, limited to a few scholars at first who were self selected for facility with spoken and written language and against dyslexia for perhaps 10,000 years. Reading and writing skills were not acquired by the majority of the population until the printing press and mass public education and have probably been in existence for several hundred years at most. The medical definition of dyslexia was not formulated until the late 19th/early 20th century by Pringle- Morgan and Hinshelwood; the latter defined it as “congenital word blindness” because of its similarity to acquired “wort blindheit” contemporaneously described by Kussmaul. Hinshelwood, a Scottish ophthalmologist, speculated that a lesion in the language area of the brain recently described by Paul Broca might account for the syndrome. There the matter lay for more than half a century while dyslexia literally became a pedagogical “football”; theories, speculations, and abstractions by educators, psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, child developmentalists, and other interested parties accumulated until somebody had the good sense to look at anatomy first in the normal person and then in the abnormal person.


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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • John T. Flynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Bascom Palmer Eye InstituteUniversity of Miami School of MedicineMiamiUSA

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