Edgar D. Adrian: Coding in the Nervous System
Edgar Douglas Adrian once remarked: “The history of electrophysiology has been decided by the history of electrical recording instruments”. Little was known about how the nerves coded their messages when Adrian began to work on the nature of the nerve impulse early in the 20th century. The problem was that researchers did not have the tools needed to amplify and record small, rapid electrical changes with sensitivity or fidelity. The scientists of the early 1900s, however, were not without galvanometers and other measurement tools. One piece of apparatus they used was known as the capillary electrometer. A later instrument was called the string electrometer. To appreciate how the newer instruments came into being, and how they were used by Adrian to unlock more secrets of the working nervous system, this chapter looks at his teacher, a brilliant and creative English physiologist by the name of Keith Lucas. This chapter also discusses Adrian's work on the cerebellar cortex, electroencephalogram, olfaction, and motor neurons.
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