We saw decades’ worth of publications where scientists argued that the VOF didn’t exist. The most aggressive argument came in 1891, and it was based on the fact that it didn’t exist in a calf embryo! How is that logical? But it didn’t matter: Atlases afterward repeated this argument against Wernicke’s finding, which perpetuated doubt in the VOF’s existence.
Then we found a 1909 journal article with beautiful images of the VOF from dissections of dead human brains. It was so consistent with our images of living human brains. The author laid out a how-to list to find the VOF, and it became clear why others missed it: It is about half an inch from the surface of the brain. If you were rough with the brain during dissection, you could actually rip the VOF right off and never see it.
To make matters worse, there was a movement in the late 1890s and early 1900s to reduce the amount of anatomical names from 35,000 to 4,500. So thousands of anatomical structures were just written out of these atlases — and of history.
I can’t give you a number as to how many structures have been forgotten or overlooked, but this isn’t the only one. Our whole paper is about trying to evolve from what could be called poetic descriptions of anatomy to more computational approaches so that we can prevent this sort of thing. We built an algorithm to automatically identify the VOF from brain scans, and it works. People who downloaded it can see the VOF in every single brain! It’s really nice when that happens.