This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 02 table of contents.

Stimulated Movement

Fritsch and Hitzig carried out the earliest systematic brain stimulation experiments in 1870. They used a crude electrical apparatus to apply electricity to the exposed brain of a dog. They found that a mild electric current would cause the animal to lift its leg or make other bodily movements. This was the first step toward localization of functions in the brain.

What were early studies by Fritsch and Hitzig?

What was Delgado's famous demonstration?

What was "more scientifically interesting" work by Delgado?

A detailed description of this research in its historical context is at <http://www.human-nature.com/mba/chap7.html>.

One of the founding fathers of modern research in "ESB" (electrical stimulation of the brain) was Jose Delgado. After he developed a radio transceiver for remote brain stimulation, Delgado arranged a demonstration in which a bull charged at him but-with the push of a button-stopped in its tracks. The stimulation probably achieved its effect (stopping the bull in its tracks) by disorganizing brain activity.

Delgado did more scientifically interesting research by implanting electrodes in free-ranging monkeys. "Free-ranging" means the monkeys had freedom of movement. Delgado could trigger brain stimulation by remote control, using a radio transceiver. He found that stimulating a particular area of the brain could trigger a motor fragment such as raising an arm, but the meaning of that movement—how it was incorporated into the flow of behavior—depended upon what the monkey was doing at the time.


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