The report first treats the subject historically. Hippocrates and Pliny speak of the Macrocephali, who used to produce deformities of the head artificially. Tulpius associated hydrocephalus with idiocy. Later, Willis describes and figures an imbecilic brain one fifth the size of that of an ordinary man. Pinel records two cases of microcephalus, and Gall and Spurzheim publish plates illustrating not only microcephali, but also hydrocephali—one case of cretinism and an imbecile child. So far only size is dealt with. As regards form, Meckel, in 1760, noticed bony deformities. With respect to conformation, Tulpius remarks that the convolutions are less numerous; and Malacavne states that according to the degree of intelligence the lamellæ of the cerebellum are increased and diminished. As regards organisation, Meckel notes the dryness and hardness of the cerebral substance in idiots, and Bonnet and Haller report tumour and ulceration of the brain. Finally, Esquinol noticed the smallness, compactness, and atrophic condition of the convolutions, and the small capacity of the lateral ventricles.
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