The Most Important 21 Pages In The Field of Neuroscience? Dr Korbinian Brodmann. The Man Who Mapped the Brain. Part 1

Dr Korbinian Brodmann, German Neurologist, Frontpiece of ‘Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex’, 1909, Public Domain*

The Brain is a complex organ, responsible for the full gamete of our inner experiences whether these are our first thoughts on waking, the perception of a rainbow or the sharing of joy with others. Understanding the brain has been an almost unobtainable goal which many great scientists have striven for. One scientist who realised the immense complexity of the task set out to characterise the brain in a more limited way and in the process established one of the most successful maps of the brain which continues to be routinely used over 100 years later. His name was Dr Korbinian Brodmann.

Dr Brodmann was a German Neurologist. He was employed at the University of Berlin and in his role as assistant in the Neurobiological Laboratory was asked to

undertake a topographic analysis of the human cerebral cortex based on its cellular structure, in the context of the research programme of this institute(Brodmann, 1908 – Translation)

Dr Brodmann undertook a comparative analysis of the brains of several species including humans and published his results in ‘Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex’ a classic text in the field of Neuroscience. The most widely cited part of the book is his description of the human Cerebral Cortex. In 2006, Laurence Garey published an English translation of his work  to improve the accessibility of this landmark study. This translation including the pages of the index stretches to 297 pages.

However the reader might well be surprised to find that the most influential part of this work is contained within a single chapter – Chapter IV – ‘Description of Individual Brain Maps’. The chapter is 66 pages long and references the individual brain maps of several species. The account of the human brain map is contained within 21 pages. The importance of those 21 pages however has helped to define a whole field and influenced the study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Schizophrenia, aided neuroimaging researchers in characterising the function of brain regions and enabled comparative anatomists to characterise the properties of the human brain that distinguish us from other species. In short these are possibly the most important 21 pages in the history of Neuroscience.


Brodmann’s Localisation in the Cerebral Cortex. 1909. Translated and Edited by Laurence J Garey. Springer. 2006.

*Public Domain in those countries where the Copyright term of the life of the author (Korbinian Brodmann 1868-1918) plus the additional country specific term has lapsed from Copyright at the time of writing

An index of the TAWOP site can be found here and here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


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