Dr. Thomas PS Powell was one of the founders of modern neuroanatomy. His career spanned an era that saw techniques for analyzing connections in the central nervous system dramatically increase in number and resolving power. In tracing the history of his research, one can see how the introduction of each new technique provided an incremental step in analytical capacity although eventually revealing its own limitations. Also evident is the extent to which prejudices born in the days of applying earlier techniques could continue to influence the interpretation of results obtained with new ones. Powell's contributions to neuroscience were extremely wide-ranging, encompassing investigations of the circuitry of the basal ganglia, corticofugal connections, topographic maps in sensory systems, central olfactory pathways, corticocortical and commissural connections, and pathways for sensory convergence in the cerebral cortex. From these investigations, made with tract tracing techniques, much existing knowledge of forebrain organization is derived. He was also one of the earliest investigators to use electron microscopy in the investigation of the central nervous system, and his electron microscopic studies on the olfactory bulb, thalamus, cerebral cortex, and basal ganglia laid, to a large extent, the foundations for all modern research on the synaptic circuitry of these structures. He was given to synthesizing data across systems in order to arrive at common principles of brain organization. A number of these syntheses have been sources of great interest and, occasionally, controversy.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error