Historical films made by neuroscientists have shown up in several countries during past years. Although originally supposed to have been lost, we recently found a collection of films produced between 1909 and 1940 by Rudolf Magnus (1873–1927), professor of pharmacology (Utrecht) and his student Gysbertus Rademaker (1887–1957), professor of physiology (1928, succeeding Willem Einthoven) and neurology (1945, both in Leiden). Both collections deal with the physiology of body posture by the equilibrium of reflex musculature contractions for which experimental studies were done with animals (labyrinthectomies, cerebellectomies, and brainstem sections) and observations on patients. The films demonstrate the results of these studies. Moreover, there are films with babies showing tonic neck reflexes and moving images capturing adults with cerebellar symptoms following cerebellectomies for tumors and several other conditions. Magnus’ studies resulted in his well-known Körperstellung (1924, “Body Posture”) and Rademaker’s research in his Das Stehen (1931, “Standing”). The films probably had an educative and scientific purpose. Magnus demonstrated his films at congresses, including the Eighth International Congress of Physiologists (Vienna, 1910) and Rademaker screened his moving images at meetings of the Amsterdam Neurologists Society (at several occasions as reflected in the Winkler-Monakow correspondence and the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde). Next to these purposes, the films were used to analyze movement and a series of images from the films were published in articles and books. The films are important historical sources that provide a portrait of the pre-World War II era in neuroscience, partly answering questions on how physicians dealt with patients and researchers with their laboratory animals. Moreover, the films confirm that cinematography was an important scientific tool in neuroscience research.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Journal of the History of the Neurosciences|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Jan 2016|