Chapter

The Code

Alan J. McComas

in Galvani’s Spark

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751754
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897094 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751754.003.0007
The Code

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Returning from the war, Adrian continues where he and Lucas had left off. Using the capillary electrometer and Lucas’ mechanical device for correcting distortion, he demonstrates the true form of the nerve impulse and then investigates the refractoriness that briefly follows the impulse. With the aid of a valve amplifier he detects the spontaneous discharges of sensory nerve fibres as a muscle is stretched by its own weight. This chance observation leads him to study sensory receptors elsewhere and to conclude that information is transmitted to the brain in the form of trains of impulses, the impulses being identical in form but differing in frequency. Among other activities, Adrian shows that contracting muscles also employ a frequency code, and he and Bryan Matthews confirm Berger’s observation of electrical activity that can the recorded from the human brain with electrodes on the scalp (the “EEG”).

Keywords: Edgar Adrian; Bryan Matthews; valve amplifier; capillary electrometer; stretch receptors; Alexander Forbes; EEG

Chapter.  6483 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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