Article ID: CBB001211257

The Unbearable Lightness of the Extrapyramidal System (2012)


The concept of the extrapyramidal system comprises an amalgam of disparate and often conflicting ideas with a tortuous history. To the theoretical neuroscientist or practicing clinician, it promptly evokes semantic associations that are hardly reminiscent of its original meaning. The purpose of this article is to revisit the sources of the extrapyramidal concept and to examine the transformations that it went through from its inception, in the late 1890s, up to the neuroimaging revolution of the 1980s. Our review shows that the use of extrapyramidal as a surrogate for the basal ganglia, disorders of movement, or certain manifestations of spastic hemiplegia does not apply to humans; rather, it represents the historical product of the unwarranted translation of results of animal experimentation into the interpretation of clinical findings on human patients, misguided clinico-anatomic deductions, and fanciful phylogenetic notions. We conclude that the extrapyramidal concept is a valid and robust anatomic concept as long as it strictly refers to the collection of descending fibers originating in a few discrete brainstem tegmental motor nuclei that project to the spinal cord. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]

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Authors & Contributors
Tobbell, Dominique
Scandura, Jani
Robinson, Joseph D.
Hagner, Michael
Dierig, Sven
Métraux, Alexandre
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Medicina Historica
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences Humaines
Medical History
Oxford University Press
Wallstein Verlag
Reaktion Books
Pepperdine University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Minnesota
Physiological psychology
Imaging technology
Freud, Sigmund
Deleuze, Gilles
Jevons, William Stanley
Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro
Darwin, Erasmus
Ramón y Cajal, Santiago
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
20th century, early
21st century
United States
Pisa (Italy)
Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk

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