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Letters to the Editor
June 2001

Neurology Was There: 1929

Arch Neurol. 2001;58(6):1024. doi:

I enjoyed reading that "neurology was there" in 1929,1 the year of my birth, and it was an exciting year for clinical neurophysiology. As stated, in 1929, Berger published his first article on electroencephalography, and Adrian and Bronk2 published the first report on electromyography, recording single motor unit action potentials in their own triceps brachii muscles. They introduced the concentric and bipolar needle electrodes connected to an amplifier and loudspeaker and photographed the action potentials recorded via an electrometer. Earlier, as stated, in 1924, Erlanger and Gasser reported the first electroneurography in the experimental animal, recording the nerve action potentials using a cathode ray oscilloscope. Denny-Brown,3,4 working in Sherrington's laboratory in Oxford, recorded single motor unit action potentials in the experimental animal for the first time in 1929. His studies documented the firing rates of motor units to stretch, as well as the orderly recruitment of motor units. The lowest threshold units were in the red, slow-twitch muscles, and the highest threshold units were in pale muscles. Plasticity of muscle was demonstrated in the cat with maturation, in that all muscles had slow-twitch contraction times (220 milliseconds) at birth, while by 5 to 6 weeks, the gastrocnemius was fast twitch (40 milliseconds) and the soleus was slow twitch (170 milliseconds).

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