Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Neurology

  • Italy’s Lady of the Cells: Rita Levi-Montalcini

    JMS PearceHull, England Rita Levi-Montalcini began her scientific career as an oppressed Jewess in fascist Italy. She ended it in triumph as the neurobiologist who discovered nerve growth factor, a political activist, and a researcher until her death at the age of 103.1 Born in Turin in 1909, Rita Levi-Montalcini was raised by an authoritarian…

  • Imagined conversation: The day Mitchell and Charcot met

    Jack RiggsMorgantown, West Virginia, United States “Professor Charcot, allow me to introduce Mr. Thomas who has travelled to Paris from America in hope that you might assist him with a most troubling malady.” Charcot’s dutiful assistant stepped back and gave a transmitting nod. Charcot returned the gesture with an acknowledging nod. “Of course. Mr. Thomas,…

  • Ancient “achoo”: The photic sneeze response in Greek mythology

    Saty Satya-MurtiSanta Maria, California, United States Sneezing, or “sternutation,” has deep roots in mythology and culture. Often associated with life and health but also with death, various cultures have considered sneezing a good or bad omen. Blessing the sneezer with a long life after they sneeze has long been a familiar, worldwide practice. Depending on…

  • Dr. Ugo Cerletti invents electroconvulsive therapy

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Is it even possible, is it logical, is it reasonable for us to treat people who have lost their mind by making them live amongst others who have lost theirs too?”1 – Ugo Cerletti, M.D., 1949   Electroconvulsive therapy machine on display at Glenside Museum. Photo by Rodw on Wikimedia.…

  • Book review: The Story of the Brain in 10 1/2 Cells

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of The Story of the Brain in 10 1/2 Cells by Richard Wingate The brain is arguably the most complex organ in the human body, containing more than 100 billion neurons. In this new book, neuroscientist Richard Wingate sets out to describe different types of brain cells,…

  • Discovering genius: The neurobiological substrate of intelligence

    Helena Ljulj Zagreb, Croatia   Depiction of physiognomy. Profiled Series by Ken Gonzales-Day, 2009. Getty Museum. Image courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. Left: Bust of an African Woman by Henry Weeks, 1859. Right: Bust of Mm. Adélaïde Julie Mirleau de Newville, née Garnier d’Isle by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 1750s. “It is…

  • Electroconvulsive therapy: Misunderstood, yet effective

    Angelina Koh Melbourne, Australia   “Winwick Hospital, Electroconvulsive therapy, 1957.” University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0. Introduction Amongst all the treatments in psychiatry, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is perhaps the most misunderstood and controversial.1 Its portrayal in popular media and misuse in history have contributed to its reputation,…

  • François Magendie

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. François Magendie. Via Wikimedia. François Magendie (1783–1855) (Fig 1) was a pioneering French physiologist, pharmacologist, and clinician who carried out a surprisingly wide variety of investigations. His best-remembered works are on the fourth ventricular foramen and the function of spinal nerves. He was born in Bordeaux, son of…

  • Is a bigger brain better?

    Matimba Molly ChilalaNdola, Zambia Does intelligence depend on the size and dimensions of the brain? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, intelligence can be defined as the ability to understand or deal with novel or trying situations. It is also described as a mental quality that consists of the ability to learn from experience, adapt to…

  • The Neuron Doctrine: Santiago Ramón y Cajal and Camillo Golgi

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramon y Cajal. From “The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1906,” The Nobel Prize. There can be few medical works of such importance as the study of the fine structure of the nerve cell that began in the last three decades of the…