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Karl Friedrich Burdach

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Karl Friedrich Burdach
Lithograph by Joseph Kriehuben (1800-1876)
Karl Friedrich Burdach

(1776-06-12)12 June 1776
Died16 July 1847(1847-07-16) (aged 71)

Karl Friedrich Burdach (12 June 1776 – 16 July 1847) was a German physiologist. He was born in Leipzig and died in Königsberg. He was the first to use the word "biology" and was a pioneer of neuroanatomy.


Burdach came from a family of physicians in Leipzig. He graduated in medicine at Leipzig in 1800 and trained in Vienna; became professor of physiology in the University of Dorpat in 1811, and four years later took a similar position at the University of Königsberg. He was influenced into Natural Philosophy by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775- 1854).[citation needed]

He provided in 1822 the name, due to the arching shape of its longest fibres, of the arcuate fasciculus,[1][2] the term amygdala,[3] and in 1800 the name "Biology" in the modern sense of the term. He used the word biology and morphology as footnotes in his book Propädeutik zum Studium der gesammten Heilkunde. Burdach was an advocate of vitalism. He believed in a life force that "created the whole world and produced each living thing."[4][5]


Burdach's work on the anatomy of the brain and nervous system introduced a number of names. It was published in three volumes Vom Baue und Leben des Gehirns (1819-1826). The column of Burdach or fasciculus cuneatus, the lateral portion of the dorsal funiculus of the spinal cord is named for him.[6] He differentiated the caudate nucleus from the putamen and identified the globus pallidus and its inner and outer segments.


  • Diatetik für Gesunde (1805)
  • Enzyklopädie der Heilwissenschaft (three volumes, 1810–12)
  • Vom Bau und Leben des Gehirns und Rückenmarks (three volumes, 1819–25)
  • Neues Recepttaschenbuch für angehende Ärzte . 2., unveränd. Ausg. (1820) Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf
  • Die Physiologie als Erfahrungswissenschaft (1826–40)


  1. ^ Catani, M.; Mesulam, M. (2008). "The arcuate fasciculus and the disconnection theme in language and aphasia: History and current state". Cortex. 44 (8): 953–61. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2008.04.002. PMC 2740371. PMID 18614162.
  2. ^ Carl Friedrich Burdach (1822), Vom Baue und Leben des Gehirns, volume II, division iii, chapter iv, § 197, page 153
  3. ^ Pabba, Mohan (2013). "Evolutionary development of the amygdaloid complex". Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 7: 27. doi:10.3389/fnana.2013.00027. PMC 3755265. PMID 24009561.
  4. ^ Shamdasani, Sonu. (2003). Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science. Cambridge University Press. pp. 179-180. ISBN 0-521-83145-8
  5. ^ Meyer, A (1970). "Karl Friedrich Burdach and his place in the history of neuroanatomy". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 33 (5): 553–561. doi:10.1136/jnnp.33.5.553. ISSN 0022-3050. PMC 493532. PMID 4922393.
  6. ^ The American Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 1938.