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Who Was Wilder Penfield? What Did Penfield Discover?

Wilder Penfield (1891-1976) was a Canadian neurosurgeon who made significant contributions to the field of neuroscience.

He is best known for his pioneering work on the functional mapping of the brain and for his development of surgical techniques to treat epilepsy.

Penfield was born in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin. He received his medical degree from Princeton University in 1913 and completed his residency in neurosurgery at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

In 1928, Penfield became the director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), which was affiliated with McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

While at the MNI, he began to explore the functional organization of the brain by stimulating the exposed brains of conscious patients during brain surgery.

This work allowed him to map out the functions of various regions of the brain and to identify the neurological basis of many mental functions.

Penfield’s work on brain mapping and epilepsy surgery had a profound impact on neuroscience and neurosurgery.

He published numerous scientific papers and several books, including “The Cerebral Cortex of Man” and “Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain.”

He was also a founding member of the World Federation of Neurology and the Canadian Neurological Society.

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Today, the Wilder Penfield Digital Collection at the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University contains more than 1,500 items related to Penfield’s life and work, including photographs, films, and manuscripts. The Wilder Penfield Pavilion at the Montreal Neurological Institute is also named in his honor.

Wilder Penfield Discoveries

Wilder Penfield was a Canadian neurosurgeon who made several important discoveries in the field of neuroscience. Some of his most significant discoveries include:

  1. Cortical Homunculus: Penfield discovered the sensory and motor representation of the body in the brain, known as the cortical homunculus. This is a map of the body’s surface that is represented in the brain, where different parts of the body are represented by different areas of the brain.
  2. Epilepsy Surgery: Penfield developed a surgical technique for treating epilepsy that involved removing the part of the brain that was responsible for the seizures. He was able to identify the specific areas of the brain responsible for seizures by stimulating different parts of the brain with electrical currents and observing the patient’s response.
  3. Memory Processing: Penfield discovered that the temporal lobes of the brain play a critical role in memory processing. He was able to stimulate specific areas of the temporal lobes and induce vivid memories in his patients.
  4. Brain Plasticity: Penfield’s work on brain plasticity demonstrated that the brain is able to adapt and change in response to new experiences. He found that the brain can reorganize itself and create new neural pathways in response to injury or other changes.

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Overall, Wilder Penfield’s discoveries revolutionized our understanding of the brain and paved the way for advances in neuroscience and neurosurgery.

Wilder Penfield Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Wilder Penfield:

  1. Wilder Penfield was born on January 26, 1891, in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin.
  2. He earned his medical degree from Princeton University in 1913 and went on to complete his residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.
  3. Penfield served as a medical officer in World War I, where he developed an interest in treating head injuries.
  4. In 1928, he became the first director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), a position he held until 1960.
  5. Penfield was a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery, and his work laid the foundation for modern techniques in brain surgery.
  6. He was a prolific researcher and author, publishing more than 170 scientific papers and several books during his career.
  7. Penfield was awarded numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including the Lasker Award for Medical Research in 1951 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.
  8. He was a founding member of the World Health Organization and played a key role in establishing the organization’s mission and goals.
  9. Penfield was also an accomplished artist and musician, and he often used his artistic skills to illustrate his medical research.
  10. He died on April 5, 1976, in Montreal, Canada, at the age of 85.

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Kaushal writes all the latest articles and news about TV and entertainment business. He is particularly interested in streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus and everything in between. He watches a lot of TV shows, which makes him a perfect fit for our entertainment category.


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