15 May 1848|
Tarnowitz, Upper Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia
15 June 1905 (aged 57)|
Gräfenroda, German Empire
|Alma mater||University of Breslau|
|Known for||Wernicke's aphasia, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome|
|Institutions||Charité, University of Breslau, University of Halle|
Carl (or Karl)[a]Wernicke (; German: ['vn?k?]; 15 May 1848 - 15 June 1905) was a German physician, anatomist, psychiatrist and neuropathologist. He is known for his influential research into the pathological effects of specific forms of encephalopathy, and study of receptive aphasia, both of which are commonly associated with Wernicke's name and referred to as Wernicke's encephalopathy and Wernicke's aphasia, respectively. His research, along with that of Paul Broca, led to groundbreaking realizations of the localization of brain function, specifically in speech. As such, Wernicke's Area (a.k.a. Wernicke's Speech Area) has been named for the scientist.
After he earned his medical degree at the University of Breslau (1870), he worked in Breslau at Allerheiligen Hospital as an assistant to an ophthamology professor Ostrid Foerster for six months. After serving some time as an army surgeon, he returned to the hospital and worked in the psychiatric department under Professor Heinrich Neumann, who later sent him to Vienna for six months to study with neuropathologist Theodor Meynert, who would have a profound influence upon Wernicke's career.
Wernicke served in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 as an army surgeon. From 1876 to 1878, Wernicke served as a first assistant under Karl Westphal in the clinic for psychiatry and nervous diseases at the Berlin Charité. Afterwards, he founded a private neuropsychiatric practice in Berlin and published numerous articles. In 1885, he succeeded his mentor Professor Neumann and served as associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Breslau and became head of the University Hospital's Department of Neurology and Psychiatry. In 1890 he attained the chair at Breslau, later performing similar functions at University of Halle in 1904, heading its Psychiatry and Neurology Clinic.
Shortly after Paul Broca published his findings on language deficits caused by damage to what is now referred to as Broca's area, Wernicke began pursuing his own research into the effects of brain disease on speech and language. Wernicke noticed that not all language deficits were the result of damage to Broca's area. Rather he found that damage to the left posterior, superior temporal gyrus resulted in deficits in language comprehension. This region is now referred to as Wernicke's area, and the associated syndrome is known as Wernicke's aphasia (receptive aphasia), for his discovery.
Principal written works by Wernicke include: