Neuropsychologists

Paul Broca

Paul Broca

In parallel with his medical career, in 1848, Broca founded a society of free-thinkers, sympathetic to Charles Darwin’s theories.

He once remarked, “I would rather be a transformed ape than a degenerate son of Adam”. This brought him into conflict with the church, which regarded him as a subversive, materialist, and a corrupter of the youth. The church’s animosity toward him continued throughout his lifetime, resulting in numerous confrontations between Broca and the ecclesiastical authorities.

He also joined and in 1865 became the president of the Societe de Chirurgie (Surgery).

He was elected to the chair of external pathology at the Faculty of Medicine in 1867, and one year later professor of clinical surgery. In 1868, he was elected a member of the Académie de medicine, and appointed the Chair of clinical surgery. He served in this capacity until his death. He also worked for the Hôpital St. Antoine, the Pitié, the Hôtel des Clinques, and the Hôpital Necker.

He died of a brain hemorrhage on 9 July 1880, at the age of 56.

The discovery of Broca’s area revolutionized the understanding of language processing, speech production, and comprehension, as well as what effects damage to this area may cause. Broca played a major role in the localization of function debate, by resolving the issue scientifically with Leborgne and his 12 cases thereafter. His research led others to discover the location of a wide variety of other functions, specifically Wernicke’s area.

*28 June 1824, Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, Gironde, Kingdom of France

†9 July 1880, Paris, France

Pierre Paul Broca was a French physician, anatomist and anthropologist. He is best known for his research on Broca’s area, a region of the frontal lobe that is named after him. Broca’s area is involved with language.

His work revealed that the brains of patients suffering from aphasia contained lesions in a particular part of the cortex, in the left frontal region. This was the first anatomical proof of localization of brain function. Broca’s work also contributed to the development of physical anthropology, advancing the science of anthropometry.

 Huguenot Broca received basic education in the school in his hometown, earning a bachelor’s degree at the age of 16. He entered medical school in Paris when he was 17, and graduated at 20, when most of his contemporaries were just beginning as medical students.

After graduating, Broca undertook an extensive internship, first with the urologist and dermatologist Philippe Ricord at the Hôpital du Midi, then in 1844 with the psychiatrist François Leuret at the Bicêtre Hospital.

In 1845, he became an intern with Pierre Nicolas Gerdy, a great anatomist and surgeon. After two years with Gerdy, Broca became his assistant. In 1848, Broca became the Prosector, performing dissections for lectures of anatomy, at the University of Paris Medical School.

In 1849, he was awarded a medical doctorate. In 1853, Broca became professor agrégé, and was appointed surgeon of the hospital.

As a researcher, Broca joined the Society Anatomique de Paris in 1847. During his first six years in the society, Broca was its most productive contributor. Two months after joining, he was on the society’s journal editorial committee. He became its secretary and then vice president by 1851. Soon after its creation in 1848, Broca joined the Société de Biologie.


Julian de Ajuriaguerra

Julian de Ajuriaguerra

In 1950, Ajuriaguerra obtained French Nationality which allowed him to pass the “baccalaureat” examination and obtain the recognition of his title as a doctor.

In 1959, he replaced Professor Ferdinand Morel at the Bel-Air psychiatric hospital in Geneva, which he directed until 1975.

He enabled psychiatry in Geneva to develop and become a reference. Psychoanalysts worked together with neurologists in spirit of emulation and collaboration rarely attained in this domain. He also perfected his technique of relaxation, the “Ajuriaguerra method”.

He then left Geneva for Paris, where he became professor at the Collège de France. This institution provided Prof. Dr. Ajuriaguerra the support to express the deep insight of his neuropsychiatric and humanistic approach.

He then became a reference and has influenced a whole new generation of researchers in medical and life sciences, as illustrated in the work of Prof. Dr. Mario Christian Meyer.

He continued an intense activity of research and teaching both in France and Spain. In 1986, he terminated his professional activities due to illness.

*7 January 1911, Bilbao, Spain

†23 May 1993, Villefranque (Pyrénées-Atlantiques)

Julian de Ajuriaguerra was a Spanish-French neuropsychiatrist and psychoanalyst of Spanish Basque origin. He is one of the pioneers of “sectoral psychiatry” in France.

Brought up in Bilbao in a traditional family, he left for Paris at the age of 16, where he studied Medicine. He becomes a non-resident student in psychiatry at Sainte-Anne Hospital. Because of his status as a foreign student, he was not paid until 1950, so he was compelled to work on night duty until the prohibition of this practice under the Vichy regime.

He attended the seminars on Gaetan Gatian de Clérambault and Pierre Janetin particular, and took an interest in the Surrealists.

He finished his medical studies both in France and Spain, where the Civil War prevented him from taking his final exams.

His thesis, pain in the disease of the central nervous system, concluded in 1936, and was prefaced by Jean Lhermitte, for whom he would become assistant in the Laboratory of the anatomy of the nervous system from 1938 to 1946.

A member of the French Resistance during the war, he passed the aggregation examination and was appointed professor of neurology and psychiatry.

Ajuriaguerra met the psychoanalyst René Diatkine, with whom he opened a consulting office for psychomotricity and language problems. They created the scientific magazine Child Psychiatry. He then underwent a psychoanalysis with Sacha Nacht.

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