Thalamus According to Galen. A Controversial Metaphor

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Jorge Eduardo Duque Parra; Bélgica Vásquez & Mariano del Sol


The technical-scientific vocabulary, one of them the Anatomical Terminology, has a linguistic legacy of classical languages in general and of Latin and Greek in particular. In this context, the metaphor has played an important role in the naming of certain structures of the human body. The analysis of these metaphors has allowed us to know the etymological origin of numerous anatomical terms derived from this frequent practice throughout history. The purpose of this study was to analyze and reflect on the use of the term thalamus and to comment on the formal similarity of this metaphor with the neuroanatomical characteristics. The name thalamus was assigned by Claudio Galeno (130-200 BC); It comes from a common language of material order, which has been mentioned by classical authors, mainly, as "internal chamber or bridal chamber" and brought to a technical- scientific language through a metaphor motivated by a spatial arrangement or understood as a image expression or formal similarity. If Galen used this metaphor considering a formal similarity, the term thalamus would be misleading, since there is no structural correspondence to the term because the neuroanatomical thalamus is not a chamber, but a compact, spheroidal or oval diencephalic structure. In this context, the term thalamus is confusing, since this metaphor is more consistent with the third ventricle. Considering the above, we in- vite you to reflect on a proposal based on a morphological characteristic of the structure, in which the term thalamus is replaced by neuroovoid.

KEY WORDS: Anatomical Terminology; Thalamus; Galen; Etymology; Metaphor.

How to cite this article

DUQUE, P. J. E.; VÁSQUEZ, B. & DEL SOL, M. Thalamus according to Galen. A controversial metaphor. Int. J. Morphol., 38(3):709-803, 2020.