New Issue – Revue d’histoire des sciences

The latest issue of the Revue d’histoire des sciences is dedicated to neurosciences and includes the following articles.

La plasticité cérébrale de Cajal à Kandel : cheminement d’une notion constitutive du sujet cérébral by Marion Droz Mendelzweig. The abstract reads:

The plasticity of the brain is an operative concept in contemporary neuroscience. An inquiry into the emergence of this notion and its evolution in the field of studies on the brain shows that it is neither an attribute nor an invention of contemporary neuroscience. An analysis of the trajectory of the notion from the end of the 19th century to present serves here to bring out the mechanics of the construction of scientific knowledge.

Relations médecine – sciences dans l’individualisation des maladies nerveuses à la Salpêtrière à la fin du XIXe siècle by Jean-Gaël Barbara. The abstract reads:

In the second half of the 19th century, at the Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, clinical and anatomopathological researches established new interactions between practices, scientific theories and medical research, in the specific domains of nosography and pathogeny of the diseases of the nervous system. We seek to understand how the rise of microscopy, the acceptance of cell theory, experimental pathology, progress in histology, and the neuron doctrine, could combine with the autonomous field of the clinic and interact through a mutually beneficial process of legitimization, exchange and constructive criticism.

La définition d’une entité clinique entre développements techniques et spécialisation médicale : épilepsie et épileptologie au XXe siècle by Céline Cherici. The abstract reads:

Until the 30s the medicine of epilepsy, based on the conceptions of John H. Jackson, was still given to conjectures, both at the nosological and pathogenical levels. We propose to show how epileptology took shape during the 20th century with the renewal of surgery and the development of electroencephalographical techniques. By studying the achievements of the school of Marseille, we shall emphasize how from the 50s on epileptic disorders became the subject of a specific medical field.

Expérimentation et clinique électroencéphalographiques entre physiologie, neurologie et psychiatrie (Suisse, 1935-1965) by Vincent Pidoux. The abstract reads:


The electroencephalogram (EEG), invented by the German psychiatrist Hans Berger in 1924, reached the neurophysiological laboratories and several clinical contexts in the mid-30s. In Switzerland, some skeptical physiologists and enthusiastic psychiatrists paved the way for its integration, but it was only after the Second World War that an emerging field of epileptology became part of a process of technological and epistemological innovation which raised great expectations and produced a large body of research at the crossroads of physiology, neurology and psychiatry. An informal network was created, characterized by clinical, scientific and local institutional cultures. The EEG also made it possible to detect some clinical entities, not however without transforming them, as in the case of epilepsy. Some attempts to probe psychiatric diseases and subjects with the EEG are described as negotiated relationships between clinical observations, subjective manifestations or symptoms and inscriptions of a spontaneous or elicited electrical brain activity. These attempts shape a clinical and experimental cerebral subject, which is analyzed in this article from the point of view of its technical aspects and the concrete procedures on which it depends.

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