A curious experiment: the paradigm switch from observation and speculation to experimentation, in the understanding of neuromuscular function and disease

Pearn, J. H. (2002) A curious experiment: the paradigm switch from observation and speculation to experimentation, in the understanding of neuromuscular function and disease. Neuromuscular Disorders, 12 6: 600-607.


Author Pearn, J. H.
Title A curious experiment: the paradigm switch from observation and speculation to experimentation, in the understanding of neuromuscular function and disease
Journal name Neuromuscular Disorders   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-8966
Publication date 2002-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/S0960-8966(01)00310-8
Volume 12
Issue 6
Start page 600
End page 607
Total pages 8
Editor V. Dubowitz
J. Miller
Place of publication Oxford, U.K.
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2002
Language eng
Subject C1
321013 Neurology and Neuromuscular Diseases
730104 Nervous system and disorders
Abstract The four-link chain of the motor unit represents the contemporary end-point of some two millennia of evolving knowledge in neuroscience. The paradigm shift in neuromuscular epistemology occurred in the mid-17th century. In 1666, the newly graduated Dutch doctor, Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680) published his former investigations of dissected nerve-muscle preparations. These experiments comprised the quantum leap from observation and speculation, to that of experimentation in the field of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. In what he termed 'A Curious Experiment' he also described the phenomenon of intrinsic muscle excitability - I cannot observe that the muscle in the living animal ever absolutely ceases from all motion. Eighty years later (1752), von Haller demonstrated experimentally that irritability (contractility) was an intrinsic property of all muscular tissue; and distinguished between the sensibility of nerve impulses and the irritability of muscular contraction. This experimental progression from Swammerdam to von Haller culminated in 1850, when Claude Bernard's studies in experimental pharmacology confirmed that muscle was a functional unit, independent of any electrical innervation via its supplying nerve. This account comprises an audit of Swammerdam's work in the perspective of neuromuscular knowledge. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keyword Clinical Neurology
Neurosciences
Motor Unit
Neuromuscular Disease
Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680)
Muscle Irritability
Medical Epistemology
Medical History
Meryon Society
Meryon Lecture 2001
Apoptosis
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Medicine Publications
 
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