Shocking Frogs

Marco Piccolino and Marco Bresadola

Published in print November 2013 | ISBN: 9780199782161
Published online June 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199345182 | DOI:
Shocking Frogs

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  • Neuropsychology
  • Cognitive Psychology


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This book provides an accurate and detailed reconstruction of the research pathway that led the Bologna physician, Luigi Galvani, to discover the electric nature of nerve conduction and muscle excitation more than two centuries ago. It is based on a thorough analysis of many (often unpublished) historical sources, and an investigation of the cultural and scientific context in which Galvani's' endeavours flourished; both are related to modern concepts of neuromuscular function. Our historical analysis highlights another important episode in eighteenth century research – the invention of the electric battery by Alessandro Volta. For the first time, the stories of Galvani and his frogs and Volta and his battery are presented free from the stereotypes that have accumulated over the intervening years. This is achieved on the basis of an approach that combines an in-depth historical approach with a profound awareness of the scientific problems involved. This book will enable neuroscientists, physiologists, biophysicists, and biologists the opportunity of becoming aware of the detailed historical foundations of their science, and for historians and humanists to be informed of the intellectual and human dimensions of science at the onset of a revolution in the history of the life sciences.

Keywords: luigi galvani; alessandro volta; history of electrophysiology; animal electricity; scientific stereotypes; nerve conduction

Book.  400 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuropsychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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