Alfred Walter Campbell and the visual functions of the occipital cortex.
In his pioneering cytoarchitectonic studies of the human brain, Alfred Walter Campbell identified two structurally different areas in the occipital lobes and assigned two different kinds of visual functions to them. The first area, the visuosensory, was essentially on the mesial surface of the calcarine fissure. It was the terminus of nervous impulses generated in the retina and was where simple visual sensations arose. The second area, the visuopsychic, which surrounded or invested the first, was where sensations were interpreted and elaborated into visual perceptions. I argue that Campbell's distinction between the two areas was the starting point for the eventual differentiation of areas V1-V5. After a brief outline of Campbell's early life and education in Australia and of his Scottish medical education and early work as a pathologist at the Lancashire County Lunatic Asylum at Rainhill near Liverpool, I summarise his work on the human brain. In describing the structures he identified in the occipital lobes, I analyse the similarities and differences between them and the related structures identified by Joseph Shaw Bolton. I conclude by proposing some reasons for how that work came to be overshadowed by the later studies of Brodmann and for the more general lack of recognition given Campbell and his work. Those reasons include the effect of the controversies precipitated by Campbell's alliance with Charles Sherrington over the functions of the sensory and motor cortices. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Srl. All rights reserved.