the jakobian legacy
As the Day of the Argentine Neuroscientific Researcher is celebrated today, the memory of the figure of Dr. Jakob arises
“An Argentine intelligentsia with a high culture, with fertile thinking, with organized scientific production based on modern biological studies has ceased to exist among us… and it is a moral duty to remember it.”
Thus began the speech (1914) of Dr. Christofredo Jakob in memory of Dr. Ramos Mejía, at a time when the country was at the forefront of research, with highly inspired geniuses and outstanding production in the field of science. .
Jakob (1866-1956), a German naturalized Argentine, developed a great intellectual and spiritual work of immense and varied themes, especially the nervous system. More than a hundred years later, it has not lost its validity, simply because it is foundational. He created the German-Argentine Neurobiological School, which shares ideals of those that do not die and that force anyone who touches them to immerse themselves in the work of this wise teacher and transmit his legacy, even from the most current point of view of the neuroimaging. Jakob was a great forerunner of neuroscience in our country, and he deserves his place in history.
In the Magazine of the Buenos Aires Zoological Garden at the beginning of the 20th century, Onelli said: “The work put into circulation has been commented on and summarized in all the scientific journals of the country and Europe… and the theories elaborated by Jakob broaden scientific horizons and open completely new directions in studies. Jakob, aware that the understanding of neurodiversity promotes the highest development for the common well-being, delved into the depths of the microcosm: the psyche, that complex neural protector of life, which regulates the vital needs of the organism, against the factors of ambient and introjective variability”.
With wise patience and total empathy, he researched, taught, and inspired. The Jakobian written heritage numbers around 250 publications. He spoke of differential psychobiology; language pathophysiology; organic psychology; neurobiological and clinical significances; organic bases of memory; the mission of the frontal lobe or the location of intelligence, prioritizing the succession of historical events with a contextual rhetoric only of polymaths and rarely seen in scientific writing: The soul, according to Homer, resided in the chest, the intimate union of the breathing to life explains such location; Hippocrates recognized that the brain was the center of psychic functions; Vesalius distinguished the gray from the white substance, and Varolio asserted that the brain was the organ of the human spirit, for which he was persecuted. With Descartes we go back, and the pineal took center stage. Kant believed that the brain was undoubtedly the seat of intelligence. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Paris Academy of Sciences, made up of the most eminent scholars of the time, ruled that the cerebral cortex was a glandular organ that had nothing to do with higher functions. It is appreciated then how little these academies of sages are sometimes useful, since in this case a laboratory man is worth more than all those. In the end, it was after accumulating the enormous work carried out by legions of outstanding people, who devoted all their energies to these studies, that the essential knowledge and data were acquired to be able to start the investigations again.
Among his works, true masterpieces, we highlight the Atlas of the mammalian brain of the Argentine Republic (1913), giving the neuroevolutionary description of the ultimately human brain and his discovery of the visceral brain; His neat pencil produces deep sensations drawing the turns of the Atlas, while recounting each differentiated space. In Elements of Neurobiology (1923) explains the evolution of affective intonations (emotions). It says there: “Life could have evolved without feelings as well, but having thus formed a depsychified world, individuals would live in a monotonous and automatic way, and lacking that central symbolic world, the stimuli and incentives that drive us to fight would also be lacking. and work and for progress. In our skin, our world of colors, chords, hot and cold, joys and pains with which our psyche sweetens the bitter life; affective states and higher feelings are provisionally real in relation to their meaning, however, they are always relative realities and this only for us, because after them we will only have to search for the distant truth”.
The Argentine Neurobiological Leaflet (1939-1946) is, for its part, a masterful creation of eight volumes of systematic and topographic anatomy, and its relationship with clinic, ontogeny and phylogeny. Although his complete bibliographical work was not published and was scattered among hundreds of national and international libraries, in curious minds it cannot be forgotten once read.
The material legacy of his laboratories also opens up to those who dust off his name. He built a collection of world-class brains in the Hospicio de las Mercedes and the Hospital de Alienadas (today the Borda and Moyano hospitals). There he explained anatomy and pathology, with exceptional freehand illustrations or with the most advanced technology of his time. His neurological murals were used for decades in Argentina and Europe for clinical, anatomical and physiological instruction. This Jakobian legacy today drives us to put it into effect and recovery, through the Jakob Project, of Argentine interest and which will include research work with neuroimaging techniques, based on his theories. ([email protected])
In addition, Jakob traveled the country with the insatiable curiosity of geniuses: he drew maps, found paths, innovated in the study of native flora and fauna, and in Patagonia he found a suitable place for his inspiration.. The Doctor’s Look today is an unmissable visit to the rocky place where Don Christofredo amalgamated his creative act with inner peace. In the geographical context of the General San Martín Refuge, a lake bears his name and around it, his history and his legacy spring from the earth.
On the Day of the Argentine Neuroscientist, in an allegory to his initial speech addressed to his friend, we offer this tribute: let us read his works, faithfully follow his example and place his statue among the great masters of neurobiology. An illustrious teacher, who was ours.
Besada, head of Neuroradiology, Diagnostic Imaging Service, Italian Hospital; Molina, CeReCoN Research Fellow (UTN-Mza), UNC Psychology student