Neuroscience in the Work of Boerhaave and Haller

  • Peter J. Koehler

After his medical preparation with Professor Duverney in Tübingen (Germany), Albrecht von Haller (1708–1778) started a peregrination through Europe. The first country where he stayed was Holland. His motivation to visit Leiden probably included his reading of Boerhaave’s Institutiones Medicae (1708), which had a physiological character (Lindeboom, 1958, p. 14). Haller’s impression of the first lecture by Boerhaave he attended was quite positive. “I listened to him from 1725 to 1727 for somewhat more than two years. I remember that I was filled with an unbelievable delight, when I heard him explain for the first time the true medicine with extraordinarily charming eloquence.”

At that time, Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738) was at the height of his career as professor of botany and medicine (since 1709) and chemistry (1718) at Leiden University. When Haller left Holland, he had finished his thesis and continued his studies in London and Paris. After his return he started a detailed commentary on Boerhaave’s Institutiones and in 1736, he was called to Göttingen as professor of anatomy, surgery, and botany. As we shall see, Boerhaave had an important influence on young Haller, who adopted a part of his teaching and in other parts disagreed and tried to prove his new insights. In this chapter, I shall discuss the neuroscience in the work of these two important eighteenth-century physicians, Europe’s principle medical teacher and his pupil, who was to become the most important physiologist of the period.


Dura Mater Nervous Disease Muscular Fiber Dutch Translation Animal Spirit 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Koehler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyAtrium Medical CentreNetherlands

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