Alan J. McComas

in Galvani’s Spark

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751754
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897094 | DOI:

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Nerve impulses traversing the brain were likened by Sherrington to points of light in an enchanted loom. The electrochemical nature of the nerve impulse was largely elucidated by Hodgkin and Huxley in their studies of the squid giant axon in the years immediately before and after the 1939–45 war. Although the impact of this work within the neuroscience community was immense, it was overshadowed elsewhere by the discovery of the helical structure of DNA by Watson and Crick at about the same time. Both types of work had involved complex mathematics and deep insights, but the Hodgkin-Huxley studies had included a series of brilliant experiments and had been the climax of almost two centuries of nerve impulse research.

Keywords: Charles Sherrington; enchanted loom; James Watson; Francis Crick; double DNA helix; Alan Hodgkin; Andrew Huxley; voltage-clamp

Chapter.  2830 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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