Richard Leblanc: Fearful Asymmetry- Bouillaud, Dax, Broca, and the Localization of Language, Paris 1825-1879.

  • ANDREAS DEMETRIADES Scottish Society for the History of Medicine
Keywords: lateralization of cerebral function, cerebral localization of articulate language, Paul Broca, Aphasia, Aphemia, Alalia, Anarthria, 19th Century Paris, localisation of language, functional brain imaging


Do you know the difference between aphemia, aphasia, alalia, anarthria, agraphia? Do you know if Broca truly was the first to suggest the brain ‘centre’ for language? What is Broca’s connection to metabolic brain scanning with Positron Emission Tomography (PET scanning) a century later? Such information is vividly represented throughout Fearful Asymmetry by Leblanc, who pays tribute to all notable names and who importantly depicts the framework wherein some of the beginnings of modern localising ideology flourished. Leblanc’s contribution is important. This is a well-written and easy to follow book, appropriately referenced and footnoted. The author researched the vast primary sources in French and brings to us information that was previously unexamined with a knowledgeable critical eye.