NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ835659
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0278-2626
Probing the Human Brain with Stimulating Electrodes: The Story of Roberts Bartholow's (1874) Experiment on Mary Rafferty
Harris, Lauren Julius; Almerigi, Jason B.
Brain and Cognition, v70 n1 p92-115 Jun 2009
Roberts Bartholow's 1874 experiment on Mary Rafferty is widely cited as the first demonstration, by direct application of stimulating electrodes, of the motor excitability of the human cerebral cortex. The many accounts of the experiment, however, leave certain questions and details unexamined or unresolved, especially about Bartholow's goals, the nature and quality of the evidence, and the experiment's role in the history of theory and research on localisation of function. In this article, we try to fill these gaps and to tell the full story. We describe Bartholow's career up to 1874, review the theoretical and empirical background for the experiment, and present Bartholow's own account of the experiment as well as those of his supporters and critics. We then present our own analysis, assess the experiment's influence on contemporaneous scientific opinion about cortical excitability, and trace its citation record into our own time. We also review and assess ethical criticisms of Bartholow and their effects on his career, and we close by discussing the role we think the experiment deserves to play in the history of theory and research on cortical excitability. (Contains 13 figures and 1 table.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A