Klüver, Henrich

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b. Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, 25 May 1897; d., Chicago, Illinois, 8 February 1979),

cerebral lesions, eidetic vision, hallucinogenics, neurology, neuropsychology, occipital lobes, temporal lobes.

Klüver is best known for describing what has come to be called the Klüver-Bucy syndrome, a constellation of behaviors that occurs when the temporal lobes are removed in monkeys and humans. Symptoms of this syndrome include failing to recognize objects by sight, hyper-sexuality, compulsive oral behaviors, attending to all visual stimuli, a marked change in dietary habits, and a great emotional passivity. Klüver’s research demonstrated the fundamental importance of the limbic system for normal and abnormal behavior. He changed the way in which neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists thought about the neurological basis of emotion and behavior.

In addition, Klüver investigated eidetic imagery, mescaline and its hallucinatory effects, and the mechanisms of behavior in monkeys. He developed the method of equivalent and nonequivalent stimuli for studying behavior and determined some of what the brain does during vision, particularly the striate cortex. Finally, he discovered the presence of free porphyrins in the central nervous systems and invented the Klüver-Barrera method for staining neurons.

His Life . Born in Schleswig-Holstein, Henrich Klüver was seventeen years old when World War I started, and he joined the army as a private. He spoke little about his experiences in the military in later life, but it is clear that he thought the time spent in the army was quite dull. After the war, he became a student at the University of Hamburg and then at the University of Berlin, where he studied psychology with the Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer from 1920 to 1923.

In the summer of 1923, he boarded a German freighter as its sole passenger and traveled to the United States, where he enrolled in graduate school in psychology at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in 1924 for work in eidectic experiences—unusually vivid visual phenomena—in children. He subsequently was hired to teach psychology to undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. He remained in that position for two years. There he met the man he later referred to as the greatest of all neuropsychologists, Karl Spencer Lashley. In 1926 Klüver left Minnesota to become a fellow of the Social Science Research Council at Columbia University.

In 1928 Klüver and Lashley moved together to the Institute of Juvenile Research in Chicago to continue the collaboration they had started in Minnesota. In 1933 the University of Chicago hired them both, and Klüver remained at the University of Chicago for the rest of his career and his life, holding a variety of research positions. He was an associate professor in the Division of Psychiatry from 1936 though 1938, then a full professor in the Division of Biological Sciences from 1938 to 1957. He was named the Sewell L. Avery distinguished professor of biological psychology in 1957 and remained in that position until his mandatory retirement in 1962. Until his death in 1979, Klüver remained at the University of Chicago as the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus.

The University of Chicago supported Klüver and his research during his career, even though Klüver taught no students there—neither graduate nor undergraduate— nor did he participate in any of the functions of the Psychology Department (except for apparently serving as its chair for one twenty-four-hour period early in his tenure there). Toward his retirement and until his death, Klüver was left essentially alone in his Culver Hall laboratory, with not even a secretary to help him. A plumbing leak destroyed most of his papers, with only some material remaining, written in his German shorthand.

At Chicago, both Klüver and Lashley joined a group of neuroscientists coalescing around Percival Bailey, who moved to the University of Chicago from Boston in the fall of 1928. This group called themselves the “Neurology Club,” and it was composed of all the people interested in the nervous system at Chicago: Anton J. Carlson and Arno Luckhardt, both physiologists; Ralph Gerard, an electroneurophysiologist; Stephen Polyak, a neuroanatomist; Fred Koch, a biochemist; Charles Judson Herrick, a comparative neuroanatomist; George W. Bertelmez, an endocrinologist; Robert Bensley, a cellular biologist; H. G. Well, a pathologist; Roy R. Grinker, a neuropathologist and psychiatrist; Paul Clancy Bucy, a neurosurgeon and future collaborator with Klüver; and, of course, Lashley, Bailey, and Klüver himself. Paul Bucy was a former student of Bailey and Grinker.

Even though he was a surgeon, Bucy spoke publicly about the importance of knowing as much as possible about the entire field of neurology. Klüver found in him an outstanding colleague and collaborator, and together they embarked on a series of experiments that led to their describing a set of pathological symptoms that subsequently bore their names, the Klüver-Bucy syndrome.

Discovery of the Klüver-Bucy Syndrome . The discovery of the Klüver-Bucy syndrome really occurred by accident. At the time, Klüver was experimenting with psychedelic drugs. He had heard of the hallucinogenic properties of the cactus Lophephorus Williamsii (commonly known as mescal) and extracted the drug mescaline from the “buttons,” or peyote, on top of the plant. His interest in the drug came out of his earlier focus on eidetic visual experiences in which he concluded, contrary to others, that eidetic imagery does not resemble the visual hallucinations caused by ingesting mescal. He set out to prove this belief at first by taking the drug himself.

At the same time, Klüver became an authority on handling monkeys and monkey behavior. He developed the method of equivalent and nonequivalent stimuli, which he used to determine the range of stimuli that monkeys perceived as similar to the positively rewarded training stimulus. Eventually, he refined the equipment to measure monkeys’ responses more precisely and to measure the number of conditions and stimuli that could be tested at the same time. These new tools let Klüver test monkeys under a wide range of conditions and using a variety of stimuli. It also gave Klüver an objective testing method for his later experiments on lesioned monkeys.

It was therefore natural that Klüver would extend his studies of mescaline to monkeys. He noticed that when he injected monkeys with mescaline, they continually moved their lips, tongue, and jaws, chewing, licking, and smacking. He and his colleague Paul C. Bucy tried to figure out what mechanisms were behind this rather odd behavior. If they could locate the neural underpinnings, then they would have located the places in the nervous system where mescaline acts.

They first lesioned the trigeminal nerves, then the facial nerves, then both of them together, but still the monkeys continued to manipulate their lips. They then thought that perhaps this behavior might be related to a similar behavior seen in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. They decided to remove the temporal lobes in a monkey to see whether this would affect the lip manipulations of monkeys on mescaline. Fortunately for Klüver, who had no prior surgical experience, Bucy was an excellent surgeon.

Purely by coincidence, Klüver and Bucy removed the left temporal lobe on a particularly aggressive monkey named Aurora, previously donated to their lab. The next morning, Klüver noticed almost immediately that Aurora was unnaturally calm, a trait that did not diminish over time. They later learned through experimentation that most monkeys do not show such extreme behavioral changes with only one temporal lobe removed.

About six weeks later, the two removed Aurora’s right temporal lobe. It was then that Klüver and Bucy first outlined the symptoms associated with the loss of the temporal lobes. Klüver then spent months observing and testing a whole series of monkeys with their temporal lobes removed, repeatedly confirming his earlier observations. His interest in this phenomenon displaced his earlier concern for locating the places where mescaline interacts with the nervous system. This was fortunate, indeed, since removing the temporal lobes did not stop the oral behaviors of mescalinized monkeys.

The six categories of symptom found in the Klüver-Bucy syndrome include:

  1. “psychic blindness,” or the inability to recognize objects for what they are, even though visual acuity remains unchanged;
  2. “hypermetamorphesis,” a condition in which subjects reach for an object as soon as it is presented visually, even if that object has been associated with negative rewards in the past;
  3. extreme changes in feeding habits (in monkeys, this included ingesting large quantities of meat, which they almost never do when they are intact);
  4. hypersexuality, including significant increases in masturbatory, homosexual, and heterosexual behaviors;
  5. changes in emotional responses, including remaining calm under normally anxiety-producing circumstances;
  6. oral manipulations, including both the manipulation of the lips, teeth, and gums mentioned above and examining objects by licking, biting, and chewing.

Klüver and Bucy first presented their results at the 1937 American Physiological Society Meeting and then published their findings in a series of articles over the next two years. It was only much later that Klüver formally described the actual damage to the temporal lobes. In

1940 he published a postmortem histology and then fifteen years later the full histological report. However, neither Klüver nor Bucy ever tried to localize their behavioral findings to any particular neuroanatomical structure. Even though Klüver was initially interested in finding the locus of activity for mescal, that concern morphed into wanting to understand the connection between the syndrome he identified and normal behavior and experiences.

Sanger Brown and Edward Albert Schäfer did publish similar findings about fifty years earlier, in 1888, in a report to the Royal Society of London; however, their article went largely unnoticed. It appears that Klüver was unaware of this publication until the late 1940s or early 1950s. Part of the difference in impact between reports is simply timing and the relative status of the scientists at the time; part of the difference concerns the precision of the techniques used by Klüver and Bucy. But most of the difference can likely be traced to the fact that while Brown and Schäfer largely dismissed the behavioral changes they saw, Klüver and Bucy gave an account of the phenomena that linked together theories from psychology and neuro-science, thus helping to unify what later became important subdisciplines in cognitive science.

In addition, Klüver and Bucy fortuitously capitalized on recent concerns in neurosciences and its cognate fields. Just four years before Klüver and Bucy publicized their findings, Charles Judson Herrick reported that removal of the rhinencephalon, which is near the temporal lobes, affects emotion and disposition. It turns out that Klüver and Bucy removed the rhinencephalon when they removed the temporal lobes, and their monkeys experienced similar effects to those that Herrick had described. In 1937 Karl Kleist hypothesized that the rhinencephalon was the center of affect, as well as the locus for sexual and food drives. Klüver relied on this hypothesis in his research. In that same year, just months after Klüver and Bucy published their first paper on the Klüver-Bucy syndrome, James Papez published his later well-known theory of the limbic system as neural mechanism underlying human emotions and emotive behavior. Papez considered Klüver and Bucy’s work to be confirmation of his theory. Though Klüver and Bucy were more measured in their response, they did agree that Papez’s work dovetailed with their own.

Klüver’s Legacy . Though Klüver is best known for recounting what came to be called the Klüver-Bucy syndrome and for his work on mescaline and general monkey behavior, he also invented, with his colleague Elizabeth Barrera, a staining technique that simultaneously highlights neurons, glia cells, and myelin sheaths. In addition, due to his meticulous care of the monkeys in his laboratory, he was able to observe that, contrary to current

beliefs, monkeys do indeed develop most of the same illnesses as man, including diabetes mellitus, brain tumors, carcinoma, and endometriosis. Until Klüver, monkeys had not lived long enough in a laboratory for anyone to observe these illnesses, often associated with aging.

Klüver worked as an associate editor for several professional journals in psychology, biology, and medicine during his career. He worked as a consultant for the National Institutes of Health and as a visiting professor to numerous universities. He was awarded the Lashley Award in neurobiology, the Hamilton Award in psychopathology, and the Gold Medal Award of the American Psychological Foundation. Although not a medical doctor, Klüver was awarded an honorary medical degree from the University of Basel in 1965 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Hamburg in 1969.

Klüver’s work inspired both neuroanatomists and psychologists to localize the neurophysiological structures responsible for human thoughts and behaviors much more precisely, and soon the world knew which areas of the temporal lobe were responsible for which behavioral or emotional disturbances. Klüver’s emphasis on phenomenology and the experiential side of human lives helped to change the way neuroscientists conceived of their research, such that they no longer exclusively focused on sensory-motor pathways.



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Valerie Gray Hardcastle