Art and the Brain: Chapter 10. Electricity Sparks the Imagination


Learning about electricity
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)
Luigi Galvani (1734–1798)


In summary, the 18th century Zeitgeist stimulated the study of what we now call electrophysiology by showing that animal tissues are endowed with intrinsic electricity — which is involved in fundamental physiological processes such as nerve conduction and muscle contraction. These ideas extended into the life sciences and efforts to bring life to cadavers were not totally uncommon; John Hunter’s portfolio included an experiment similar to the one Aldini tried. Both, as a result, have been compared to the fictional Frankenstein, who created a monster in his laboratory with a galvanic spark, as discussed in the next chapter.

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