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

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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.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: R. Shane Tubbs, Ph.D., Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital, 1600 7th Avenue South, ACC 400, Birmingham, Alabama 35233. email: rstubbs@uab.edu.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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    Painting of a young François Magendie (1783–1855).

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    Drawing of the brain and spinal cord with associated nerves from Magendie's An elementary treatise on human physiology, on the basis of the précis elementaire de physiologie. Courtesy of the Reynolds Historical Library, The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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    Neuroanatomical drawing from Magendie's An elementary treatise on human physiology, on the basis of the précis elementaire de physiologie. Courtesy of the Reynolds Historical Library, The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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    Drawing of François Magendie in his later years.

References

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