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December 13, 1924


JAMA. 1924;83(24):1925-1926. doi:10.1001/jama.1924.02660240039016

The conception of life processes as an alternating sequence of activity and complete rest is, in some instances at least, fallacious. If it were correct, it would imply that inactivity is essentially the expression of a lack of stimulus to performance; whereas activity on this basis would ensue only when a positive exciting factor is supplied. However, in the living body activities occasionally become pronounced when some interference to their occurrence is removed, just as a car starts to run down hill as soon as the brake is released. Bayliss 1 has long since pointed out that when a process of any kind takes place continuously of itself without intervention from without, it is clear that, for purposes of due regulation in the living organism, there must be means of modifying it in both directions; there must be some power of either increasing it or decreasing it according to necessity.

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