Richard Lower (1631-1691): Acknowledging his notable contributions to the exploration of the nervous system Historical vignette

R. Shane Tubbs, Marios Loukas, Michael Hill, Mohamm Adali M. Shoja, Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Richard Lower (1631-1691), an anatomist and physician, was born in St. Tudy, Cornwall, England, and became an avid follower of William Harvey and a pupil to Sir Thomas Willis. Unfortunately, little is written of his contributions to the study of the nervous system despite his successful medical career and his regard as one of the most significant English physiologists of the 17th century. Lower was best known for his remarkable studies within the cardiovascular and respiratory disciplines. However, although not as well documented and thus often overlooked, Lower produced noteworthy advancements within the field of neuroscience such as studying the hindbrain innervation of the heart, CSF formation and circulation, cranial nerve function, and the structural sources of seizures. Some have even attributed the results of Willis' anatomical and physiological studies to Lower rather than to Willis himself. Lower has not received the recognition he is owed as a highly skilled and trained anatomist and physician. In this paper, the neurological contributions, with a brief mention of challenges, delivered during the 17th century by this influential historical physician will be highlighted with an emphasis on the impact each contribution made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1096-1101
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Brain
  • England
  • History
  • Richard Lower
  • Sir Thomas Willis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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