François Magendie (1783–1855) and his contributions to the foundations of neuroscience and neurosurgery

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R. Shane TubbsSection of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital, and
Department of Cell Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama;

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 M.S., PA.-C., Ph.D.
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Marios LoukasDepartment of Anatomical Sciences, St. George's University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies;
Department of Education and Development, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts;

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 M.D., Ph.D.
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Mohammadali M. ShojaLung Disease and Research Institute and

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Ghaffar ShokouhiDepartment of Anatomy and Neurosurgery, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

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 M.D.
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W. Jerry OakesSection of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital, and

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✓François Magendie lived during a tumultuous period in French history. Although this early medical pioneer made significant contributions to the fields of neuroanatomy, physiology, and pharmacology, little information is found in the non-French literature regarding this significant person in history. Based on this review, one could also consider this trained surgeon as an early pioneer of neurosurgery. For example, he is known to have used Galvanic current to treat various neuralgias, described a technique for extracting cerebrospinal fluid and quantitated and described its characteristics in normal and pathological specimens, and elucidated the functions of the the cranial nerves using vivisection. Additionally, he accurately described the functions of the dorsal and ventral rootlets using vivisection, and realized that the exposed meninges were susceptible to painful stimuli. Our current knowledge is based on the early contributions of scientists such as François Magendie.

Abbreviation used in this paper:

CSF = cerebrospinal fluid.
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  • 1

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  • 2

    Dawson PM: A Biography of François Magendie Brooklyn, NY, Albert T. Huntington, 1908

  • 3

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    Jørgensen CB: Aspects of the history of the nerves: Bell's theory, the Bell-Magendie law and controversy, and two forgotten works by P.W. Lund and D.F. Eschricht. J Hist Neurosciences 12:229249, 2003

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  • 6

    Koehler P, Magendie, François. Aminoff MJ, & Daroff RB: Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences Vol 2:Burlington, MA, Academic Press, 34

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  • 7

    Magendie F, An Elementary Compendium of Physiology; for the Use of Students Milligan E: Philadelphia, James Webster, 1824

  • 8

    Magendie F, An Elementary Treatise on Human Physiology, on the Basis of the Précis Elementaire de Physiologie ed 5. Revere J: New York, Harper & Brothers, 1844

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  • 9

    Olmsted JMD: François Magendie. Pioneer in Experimental Physiology and Scientific Medicine in XIX Century France New York, Schuman's, 1945

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  • 10

    Poynter FN: Doctors in the human comedy (Guillaume Dupuytren, Jean Baptiste Bouillaud, François Joseph Victor Broussais, François Magendie). JAMA 204:710, 1968

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  • 11

    Rogers L: The foramen of Magendie. J Anat 65:457467, 1931

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    Shampo MA, & Kyle RA: François Magendie: early French physiologist. Mayo Clin Proc 62:412, 1987

  • 13

    Sourkes TL: Magendie and the chemists: the earliest chemical analyses of the cerebrospinal fluid. J Hist Neurosci 11:210, 2002

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