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current. The attempt made was to similate the action of the nerve cells, by discharging a current of electricity upon the grey matter of the brain, and recording the results which came under observation. Experiments were begun in 1870 in Germany by Fritsch and Hitzig, the dog being the animal experimented upon. The investigation was undertaken also by Dr. Ferrier of King's College London, and much more extended and varied results were published by him in 1873. Confirmatory work, executed with many precautions, was undertaken on the subject in 1874 by a committee of the New York Society of Neurology and Electrology,—a committee which included Drs. Dalton, Arnold, Beard, Flint, and Masson,—testing results by frequent renewal of the experiments; and at the same time, a similar course of inquiry was being conducted in Paris by Carville and Duret.*
By these investigations, the possibility of electric stimulation of the cortical or grey matter of the brain, and consequent activity of the nerve system has been fully established; and though there is still considerable diversity
* For detailed narrative, see my work on The Relations of Mind and Brain, chap. iv. p. 79.
of opinion concerning the interpretation of the facts, it can not be disputed that by directing the electrode on certain well defined areas of the surface of the brain, it is possible to bring into natural activity certain portions of the muscular system, as controlled by the motor nerves.
The plan adopted is, after putting the animal into an insensible state by use of chloroform, and removing the cranium so as to expose the brain, to apply the electrode connected with an electric battery to a given point on the surface, record the result, and gradually shift the needle round the original spot until a new result is obtained, in which the spot previously tested becomes an index for the boundary of one circle, and this marks the fact that a new circle has been entered.
By this process of investigation a series of centres for active stimulation have been discovered. These number, in the brain of the rat, six; in the brain of the rabbit, seven; of the cat, eleven; of the dog, thirteen; and of the monkey, at least, seventeen. A curious limitation to the area of experiment has been encountered here, for all the centres identified are found to cluster over the central region of the brain, and both the front and rear parts of the organ are silent, offering no response however greatly stimulated. The explanation of this silence remains a matter of doubt. It may be that these portions of the brain are concerned with movements which do not come under the observation of the operator, or that they are centres of sensibility from which no movement can naturally follow, or that they fulfil functions which can not be recognized by this mode of experiment. Uncertainty hangs over this department in the investigation.
The actual results may be indicated by a few examples. At a point well forward in the brain of the dog, marked number one by Ferrier, is a centre which when stimulated leads to movement of the hind leg on the opposite side; and by exciting another portion of the brain quite contiguous, marked number four, movement of the opposite fore leg is produced. By exciting a point situated over these two and on a distinct convolution, wagging of the tail is induced. By transferring the needle to a point much lower down, towards the base of the brain, but still well forward, marked by Ferrier nine, the mouth is opened and the tongue moved, while in many cases a decided bark is emitted. These examples may suffice to indicate the class of results obtained; and similar results have been seen in all animals subjected to this test, with such variations as may be considered inevitable in view of the configuration of the animal.
While distinct areas or circles of the brain have thus been marked, warranting localizing of certain functions, the facts connected with these experiments do not favor the view that each area is to be taken as so rigidly distinct that it may be supposed to operate separately in a quite isolated manner. On the contrary, a conjoint action of several centres seems more commonly implied when the natural activity of the brain is contemplated in line of these results. Additional weight must be given to this consideration, when it is noticed that the centres are nominally motor centres,—movement and not sensibility being the result most patent to the observer,—nevertheless on closer scrutiny it proves true, that many of the movements occasioned by electric stimulation are those induced naturally as the result of sensation. Such for example are the movements of the eyelids consequent upon a dazzling of the eyes, or movement of the ears because of a startling sound. In this way it becomes clear that within a given area a centre of sensibility is in communication with a motor centre close by, or it may be even at some little distance. Thus this most delicate and difficult course of investigation supports the view that much of the activity of the animal organism is provided for by an established connection between nerve cells respectively presenting the terminus in the brain for a sensory nerve, and the starting point for a motor nerve, or point of communication with such a nerve. From this conclusion, it follows that a very large amount of the activity which we witness in the case of animals, often attributed to instinct, or even to voluntary determination, is to be described as sensori-motor activity. That is to say, the action is brought about by a contrivance which may be described as partly mechanical, partly chemical. Its history may be sketched in this way: an impression is made on one of the nerves of sensibility, or on one of the organs of special sense, such as the eye or ear; a wave of impulse passes along the incarrying nerve fibre, leading to molecular change in the nerve cell, and to sensibility in some way unknown; the