The beginning of intracellular recording in spinal neurons: facts, reflections, and speculations

Brain Research
Douglas G Stuart, Robert M Brownstone


Intracellular (IC) recording of action potentials in neurons of the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) was first reported by John Eccles and two colleagues, Walter Brock and John Coombs, in Dunedin, NZL in 1951/1952 and by Walter Woodbury and Harry Patton in Seattle, WA, USA in 1952. Both groups studied spinal cord neurons of the adult cat. In this review, we discuss the precedents to their notable achievement and reflect and speculate on some of the scientific and personal nuances of their work and its immediate and later impact. We then briefly discuss early achievements in IC recording in the study of CNS neurobiology in other laboratories around the world, and some of the methods that led to enhancement of CNS IC-recording techniques. Our modern understanding of CNS neurophysiology directly emanates from the pioneering endeavors of the five who wrote the seminal 1951/1952 articles.


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