Up till the 1840s, gross dissection was the only method available to study the tracts and fascicles of the white matter of the human brain. This changed dramatically with the introduction by Stilling (1842, 1843, 1846) of the microscopy of serial sections and his demonstration of the discriminative power of this method. The decussation of the brachium conjunctivum (the superior cerebellar peduncle) (International Anatomical Terminology (1998)) originally was known as the horseshoe-shaped commissure of Wernekinck. The first use of this name and the first illustrations of this commissure date from a book by Wernekinck's successor, Wilbrand (1840). Using gross dissection, he concluded that the commissure connects the dentate nucleus with the contralateral inferior olive. A few years later, Stilling (1846), using microscopy of serial sections through the human brain stem, illustrated the entire course of the brachium conjunctivum, its decussation, and its crossed ascending branch, up to the red nucleus. From his work, it became clear that Wernekinck and Wilbrand had included the central tegmental tract in their commissure, and that they had failed to identify its ascending branch.

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doi.org/10.1007/s12311-013-0520-9, hdl.handle.net/1765/61541
The Cerebellum
Department of Neuroscience

Voogd, J, & van Baarsen, K. (2014). The horseshoe-shaped commissure of Wernekinck or the decussation of the brachium conjunctivum methodological changes in the 1840s. The Cerebellum, 13(1), 113–120. doi:10.1007/s12311-013-0520-9