Oskar Vogt

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Professor Vogt investigating histological sections from Lenin's brain.

Oskar Vogt (6 April 1870, in Husum – 30 July 1959, in Freiburg im Breisgau) was a German physician and neurologist.[1] He and his wife Cécile Vogt-Mugnier are known for their extensive cytoarchetectonic studies on the brain.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Vogt was born in Husum, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.[1] He studied medicine at Kiel and Jena, obtaining his doctorate from Jena in 1894.

The Vogts met in 1897 in Paris, and eventually married in 1899.[1] The Vogts were close to the Krupp family. Friedrich Alfred Krupp financially supported them, and in 1898, Oskar and Cécile founded a private research institute called the Neurologische Zentralstation (Neurological Center) in Berlin, which was formally associated with the Physiological Institute of the Charité as the Neurobiological Laboratory of the Berlin University in 1902.[2][3] This institute served as the basis for the 1914 formation of the Kaiser Institut für Hirnforschung (Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research), of which Oskar was a director.[4][5] There, he had students from many countries who went on to prominent careers including Jerzy Rose (mentor of Michael Merzenich), Valentino Braitenberg (mentor of Christof Koch), Korbinian Brodmann, Rafael Lorente de Nó and Harald Brockhaus. This institute gave rise to the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in 1945.[6]

As a clinician, Vogt used hypnotism (Stuckrade-Barre and Danek 2004) until 1903 and wrote papers on the topic. In particular, Vogt had an intense interest for localizing the origins of "genius" or traits in the brain.


Vogt married the French neurologist Cécile Mugnier. They met in Paris in 1897[1] while he was there working with Joseph Jules Dejerine and his wife, Augusta Marie Dejerine-Klumke, who collaborated with him. Because of their similar scholarly interests, the Vogts collaborated for a long period, usually with Cécile as the primary author.

The Vogts had two daughters, both accomplished scientists in their own right:


Vogt was a socialist, involved with the factions led by Mme Fessard who knew him personally, and with the guesdist element of the French socialist party (Jules Guesde was at the far left wing of this party). He was never a Communist, although he did interact with the Soviets on a number of occasions. They sent him several researchers, including N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij (whom Solzhenitsyn met in the Gulag). He helped to establish the brain institute in Moscow.

Vogt was opposed to the Nazi Party.[1][7] Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach helped fund a small hospital in Schwarzwald near Neustadt when Vogt was dismissed in 1936 from his position with the Kaiser Wilhelm Brain Research Institute.[1]

Institutes and journals[edit]

Vogt was the editor of the prominent Journal für Psychologie und Neurologie published in German, French and English which made many of the most important contributions between the two World Wars.[8] This later became The Journal für Hirnforschung.

Lenin's brain[edit]

Vogt had a longstanding interest in localizing functions in the brain.

In 1924, Vogt was one of the neurologists asked to consult on Lenin’s illness and was given his brain for histological study after Lenin's death.[7][9][10] He found that Lenin's brain showed a great number of "giant cells", which Vogt saw as a sign of superior mental function. "The giant cells" were cortical pyramidal cells of unusual size. There were also particularities in layer 3.[11]

In 1925 Vogt accepted an invitation to Moscow where he was assigned the establishment of an institute for brain research under the auspices of the health ministry in Moscow.[12] Vogt got one 20 micrometer slice out of the 30,953 slices of the brain, and took it home to Berlin for research purposes.[13] Therefore, contrary to claims of two Belgian neurologists, L. Van Bogaert and A. Dewulf, the Soviets did not have to carry out a military operation specifically to retrieve the brain before the Americans obtained it.[citation needed] It was, for a time, put on display in the Lenin Mausoleum[citation needed]. The brain is still in the Institute in Moscow.


Korbinian Brodmann, Cécile Vogt-Mugnier, Oskar Vogt, Max Borcherdt, and Max Lewandowsky.

The contributions of the Vogts applies to several parts of the brain and had a considerable influence on international neurological sciences.


An interest in the correlation between anatomy and psychology drew the Vogts to study the cortex. The Vogts imposed the distinction between iso- and allocortex. Based on their cytoarchitectonic studies, they promoted a six-layer pattern,[14] rather than the five-layer pattern of Meynert or the seven of Cajal.


Vogt made several presentations of his view of the thalamus in Paris. Oskar and Cécile further referred to the work of Constantin von Monakow in a series on the anatomy of mammals. A paper published together in 1941 (Thalamus studien I to III), devoted to the human thalamus, represented an important step in partitioning and naming thalamic parts. The anatomy of the thalamus from Hassler (one of their students) was published in 1959, the year of Oskar's death. It is not known whether the master[clarification needed] accepted the excessive partition and unnecessary complication of this work; it was an atlas dedicated to stereotacticans. The paper of 1941 was much simpler.

Basal ganglia[edit]

The Vogts greatly contributed to the analysis of what is known today as the basal ganglia system. Their main interest was on the striatum, which they named following a proposal by Foix and Nicolesco in 1941. This includes the caudate nucleus, the putamen, and the fundus.


The Vogt-Vogt syndrome is an extrapyramidal disturbance with double sided athetosis occurring in early childhood.[15][16][17]



  • 1950 — National Award GRD


  1. ^ a b c d e f g I. Klatzo (January 1, 2004). T. Kuroiwa; A. Baethmann; Z. Czernicki (eds.). Brain Edema XII: Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium : Hakone, Japan, November 10–13, 2002. Springer. pp. 29–32. ISBN 978-3-211-00919-2. Archived from the original on July 7, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  2. ^ Günter P. Wagner (October 31, 2000). The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology. Academic Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-08-052890-8. Archived from the original on July 7, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  3. ^ Susanne Heim; Carola Sachse; Mark Walker (April 27, 2009). The Kaiser Wilhelm Society Under National Socialism. Cambridge University Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-521-87906-4. Archived from the original on July 7, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  4. ^ Eling P (2012). "Neuroanniversary 2012". J Hist Neurosci. 21 (4): 429–33. doi:10.1080/0964704X.2012.720218. PMID 22947384. S2CID 26720830.
  5. ^ "Origins". MPI Brain Research. Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. 2012. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  6. ^ Helga Satzinger – Femininity and Science: The Brain Researcher Cécile Vogt (1875-1962) Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Translation of: Weiblichkeit und Wissenschaft. In: Bleker, Johanna (ed.): Der Eintritt der Frauen in die Gelehrtenrepublik. Husum, 1998, 75-93.
  7. ^ a b Kalyan B Bhattacharyya (2011). Eminent Neuroscientists Their Lives and Works. Academic Publishers. p. 414. ISBN 978-93-80599-28-1. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  8. ^ Jones, Edward G. (January 2003). "Two minds". Nature. 421 (6918): 19–20. Bibcode:2003Natur.421...19J. doi:10.1038/421019a. S2CID 2918752.
  9. ^ Compston, Alastair (February 2017). "The structural basis of traumatic epilepsy and results of radical operation. By O. Foerster, Breslau, and Wilder Penfield, Montreal. Brain 1930; 53: 99–119". Brain. 140 (2): 508–513. doi:10.1093/brain/aww354.
  10. ^ Sarikcioglu, L. (June 1, 2007). "Otfrid Foerster (1873-1941): one of the distinguished neuroscientists of his time". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 78 (6): 650. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2006.112680. PMC 2077957. PMID 17507449.
  11. ^ Kreutzberg, Georg W.; Klatzo, Igor; Kleihues, Paul (October 1992). "Oskar and Cécile Vogt, Lenin's Brain and the Bumble-Bees of the Black Forest". Brain Pathology. 2 (4): 363–364. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3639.1992.tb00712.x. PMID 1341969. S2CID 205939477.
  12. ^ "Lenin's Brain". Archived from the original on August 29, 2013.
  13. ^ Paul Gregory, Lenin's Brain (Hoover Institution Press, 2008), hfdst 3, pp. 24-35 https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/Lenins_Brain_Paul_Gregory_24.pdf
  14. ^ Insausti, R.; Muñoz-López, M.; Insausti, A. M.; Artacho-Pérula, E. (October 4, 2017). "The Human Periallocortex: Layer Pattern in Presubiculum, Parasubiculum and Entorhinal Cortex. A Review". Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 11: 84. doi:10.3389/fnana.2017.00084. PMC 5632821. PMID 29046628.
  15. ^ Whonamedit? Oskar Vogt [1] Archived September 1, 2005, at the Wayback Machine Whonamedit
  16. ^ Whonamedit? Cécile Vogt, (born Mugnier) [2] Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Whonamedit
  17. ^ Whonamedit? Vogt-Vogt syndrome [3] Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Whonamedit

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