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Austria today is a small central European state of 8 million inhabitants but looks back on a magnificent past as the central European power during the times of the Habsburgian Empire which united as many as 11 nationalities of 11 different languages under one central administrative structure. The Viennese Medical School rose to worldwide fame in the final century of that monarchy, and the 19th and early 20th century also brought extraordinary contributions from Austria to the neurological sciences. The first ever department of neurology in Austria was founded in the General Hospital in Vienna in 1846 with Ludwig Türck (1810–1868) serving as its founding director. He made several contributions to the anatomical understanding of the fibrous networks of the central nervous system by introducing a method of secondary degeneration to study fibre tracts. His younger contemporary, Theodor von Meynert (1833–1892), became lecturer in neuroanatomy at the University of Vienna at the age of 32 years and finally rose to be the director of the Department of Psychiatry at Vienna University in 1876. His name continues to be connected with important neuroanatomical studies, the most famous of which was his identification and description of the basal forebrain nucleus which has since become recognised as a major source of cortical cholinergic innervation. Another pioneering personality of the Viennese Neurological School in those years was Heinrich Obersteiner, who made the visionary move to found an Institute for Anatomy and Physiology of the Central Nervous System in 1887. This institution was the 19th century prototype of the modern concept of interdisciplinary neuroscience centres which continue to develop in many universities throughout the world in an effort to provide the infrastructure for translational, multidisciplinary neuroscientific research. The training and research provided at Obersteiner’s institute in Vienna, among others, also attracted the young scholar Sigmund …
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