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From Clouds to the Brain. The Movement of Electricity in Medical Science. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 5179207
  • Book
  • January 2021
  • 352 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Based on research on the links between deep brain stimulation and its applications in the field of psychiatry, the history of techniques is of great importance in this book in order to understand the scope of the fields of application of electricity in brain sciences. The concepts of brain electricity, stimulation, measurement and therapy are further developed to identify lines of convergence, ruptures and conceptual perspectives for a materialistic understanding of human nature that emerged during the 18th century. In an epistemological posture, at the crossroads of the concepts of epistemes, as stated by Foucault, and phenomenotechnics, as conceived by Bachelard, the analyses focus on the technical content of the theories while inscribing them in the language and specificities of each era.
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Chapter I: 36 pages From physics to electrifying physicists - Physics, knowledge of the laws and nature of electricity - Medical physics: philosophical issues - Healing machines? Summary: From the beginning of the 18th century, knowledge of natural electricity accelerated and became more systematic. Electrifying physicists applied it to themselves; in the context of often painful and impressive self-experiments; and to others in order to study the links between the body and electrical care. If by physicists we mean those who observe nature, we are talking here about scientists who, while exploring the natural laws of this energy, are considering its use in medicine, particularly in the context of paralysis, the first therapeutic target of electricity. In this first chapter, we will discuss the links between physics and medicine, and the shift from one to the other. Chapter II : 40 pages Electricity: from its controversial applications to paralysis, to the management of nervous disorders - From paralysis - . To nervous disorders - Electricity: between normal and pathological Summary: A series of accidents, often fatal, marked the starting point for controversies about the benefits, dangers and side effects associated with the use of electricity in a therapeutic setting. These quarrels will cross the field of 19th century electrotherapy. They also participated in the renewal of techniques, as well as in research on the type of electricity (static, dynamic, positive, negative) to be used; researches that progressed at the pace of discoveries about the nature and mechanisms of electricity. For example, the miniaturization of Leiden bottles was recommended in order to reduce their effects, which can be better controlled and dosed, especially by using several small capacitors. The application of electricity to paralysis catalyzed the first failures and an even greater distrust of its medical applications. However, instead of falling into a severe and lasting discredit, in the manner of mesmerism, it focused on studies on the nervous system and disorders of the psychic sphere; an important paradigm shift whose stages we will detail. Chapter III : 50 pages Animal electricity: between medicine and physiology - Understanding life: heuristic experiences - Medical galvanism - Electrocentric life Summary: At the end of the eighteenth century, the work of Volta, Galvani and Fontana brought physiological research into an experimental era by initiating electrophysiology. Caldani and Fontana were among the first physiologists to perform stimulation directly on the animal brain. The stakes are multiple: on the one hand, it is a question of identifying the role played by the brain, an organ to which the properties of human nature are attributed; on the other hand, it is a question of confirming suspicions that the body is not only a conductor but also a producer of the electrical fluid. The developments of electrophysiology therefore have their roots in the late eighteenth century; not only marked by controversies over animal electricity as the carrier and agent of nerve conduction, and metal electricity; but also shaken by the advent of medical electricity applied to nervous disorders. How does medical galvanism fit into this story? It is to this question that we will try to provide some answers. Chapter IV : 90 pages Between electrotherapy rooms and laboratories: when electricity specializes itself Part 1: Electrical Therapies: Emergencies and Interventionism : 40 pages - Misleading diseases - When care depends on techniques - Electricity: a diagnostic tool for mental illness? Summary: The deployment of electrotherapy accompanied that of hospital structures where important services are dedicated to it. Thus, a first phase of electrotherapeutic enthusiasm went from 1770 to 1830; then a second phase went from 1850 to the end of the First World War. Indeed, electrotherapy underwent development and counter-development after the First World War, marked by the need for emergency medicine, and a third period of resurgence ran from 1920 to 1950. The increase in the number of rooms devoted to this care, particularly in asylar establishments, as well as the hope of relieving diseases as old as hysteria or epilepsy, makes it possible to understand their scope and success. The many psychological diseases, still undifferentiated from each other, make excellent targets for electricity that seems to have an effect on the whole body and could make it possible to mark certain differences. Part 2: Exploration and recording of nervous system activities : 50 pages - Electrophysiology: measuring and exploring from 1848 onwards - Stimulations and the brain organ: localizationist perspectives - Brain electricity records and electrical alphabet Summary: While electrotherapies developed, particularly in France, throughout the first half of the 20th century; at the same time, an exploratory, highly technical electricity deployed its instruments towards electrophysiology and the knowledge of the electrical dimension of organisms. Measurement and exploration of brain electricity were all techniques that shed light on its physiological mechanisms, modes of conductivity and transmission from nerves to the brain and vice versa. Transcranial or cortical stimuli identify, map and indicate where these mechanisms occur, while brain electricity recordings promote a new alphabet of thought, offering new images to understand how mind is a mode of action of matter. Diagnostic tools, measuring instruments, cartographic landmarks, electrophysiology is adorned, within experimental laboratories, with the finery of biophysics. A mixed, localizationist and holistic modeling emerges from these specializations of electrical explorations of life. Sometimes regionalized, sometimes functioning as a whole, the central and peripheral nervous systems continue to interact with normal, pathological, natural and artificial models of electricity. In this second part, we will discuss the work of scientists such as du Bois-Reymond; then we will explore in greater depth the themes of stimulation and exploration of the anatomical boundaries of cognition and the brain; finally, we will analyze how electroencephalography proposes to translate thought into the electrical alphabet. Chapter V : 40 pages Disorders and resurgences of electrical neurostimulation therapies: from Heath's research to deep brain stimulation - Brain stimulation, control and improvement of abilities - Deep brain stimulation and psychiatry - The man, the brain and the machine Summary: When it comes to the history of deep brain stimulation, Professor Alim Louis Benabib (1942-) and his team from Grenoble are cited as the discoverers of a new application of this technique to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. This perspective, without denying the contributions of the French team, which we will discuss later, will have to be deconstructed. On the one hand, because the history of invasive stimulation in deep brain areas is long, complex, agitated by controversy and a scientific imagination sometimes close to the theme of augmented man. On the other hand, this story conveys the false idea that neurostimulation primarily targets movement diseases. However, psychiatric applications were the first to be carried out. It is not a question of knowing which ones, between the ills of the body and those of the mind, have been the first to be modulated or stimulated, but of highlighting the tensions that have coexisted between these two fields since the beginning of medical physics. Chapter VI : 50 pages Birth of an electric culture: Frankenstein and Hyde - "Re" create life? - Changing and regulating behaviour Summary: The notion of "electric culture" was born at the beginning of the 19th century, asserting itself through two issues in which the scientific aspects and the imagination of a force that seems to possess all the powers mix: - "Re" create life. Indeed, the experiments on the bodies of convicts overlap with the theme of electricity as the motor of life. Aldini or Cumming, by animating corpses, dramatizing demonstrations, thus spreading the links between galvanism and vital properties. - The control of morals In the mid-19th century, electric medicine broke with the dualist paradigm of the electrified automaton to locate, in the brain, the areas that would allow morals to be controlled by these therapies. This movement follows a more general shift, from moral issues to psychiatric disorders.
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Celine Cherici
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