The year 2006 marks the centenary of Alois Alzheimer's remarkable presentation on "A Characteristic Disease of the Cerebral Cortex". Alzheimer read this paper during an afternoon session of the 37th Assembly of Southwest German Psychiatrists in Tübingen. Eighty-eight physicians and researchers were present including Binswanger, Curschmann, Döderlein, Levi, Merzbacher, Nissl and Romberg. Besides Alzheimer Binswanger and Levi were to become well know eponymists. Carl Gustav Jung from the Burghölzli Hospital in Zürich was also present. He later developed analytic psychology. The paper read by Alzheimer was the 11th contribution and published in the same year 1906 as abstract in the "Neurologische Centralblatt" with the title "Über einen eigenartigen schweren Erkrankungsprozess der Hirnrinde" (Neurologisches Centralblatt 1906; 23: 1129-36).
One year later, in 1907, the "Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und PsychischGerichtliche Medizin" (General Journal of Psychiatry and Psycho-Forensic Medicine) printed the lecture in full under the rubric "Proceedings of Psychiatric Associations" as the second contribution under the title "A Peculiar Disease of the Cerebral Cortex". This two-page article, and subsequent publications by Bonfiglio (1908), Perusini (1909), and again Alzheimer in 1911, led to the eponym Alzheimer's Disease first used by Emil Kraepelin in his 1910 textbook of psychiatry. In his 1906 and 1907 papers, Alzheimer described Auguste D., a 51-year-old woman from Frankfurt who had exhibited progressive cognitive impairment, focal symptoms, hallucinations, delusions, and psychosocial incompetence. At postmortem she exhibited arteriosclerotic changes, senile plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Although die eponym Alzheimer was originally used to describe "presenile" dementia, it was later also applied to dementing processes of old age.
This chapter describes the discovery and the contents of the long-lost file of Auguste D. and provides some biographical data on Alois Alzheimer and information on the derivation of the eponym. The type of Auguste D.'s dementia will also be reviewed in this context.
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