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The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
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Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001

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Galvani’s Animal Electricity

Galvani’s Animal Electricity

(p.307) Chapter 21 Galvani’s Animal Electricity
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Oxford University Press

Luigi Galvani merits the lion's share of the credit for expanding the doctrine of animal electricity beyond the singular powers of a few fish, and for doing this in a way that would reshape the life sciences and markedly influence medicine. This chapter examines how Galvani's investigations led him to his revolutionary ideas about animal electricity, as expressed in his landmark publication of 1791. It shows how animal spirits—the elusive messengers of the soul that carried sensory and motor signals in classical and even later physiology—would only now start to be banished from science and medicine by newer electrical ideas.

Keywords:   Luigi Galvani, electric fish, electricity, life sciences, animal spirits, motor signals

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