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June 1950

THE VOMITING CENTER: A Critical Experimental Analysis

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Physiology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Arch NeurPsych. 1950;63(6):928-941. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1950.02310240087005

VOMITING, or emesis, is perhaps the reflex response which makes most widespread use of the motor systems of the animal organism. Involved in this complex pattern of activity are salivation; spasmodic respiratory movement, effected by the antagonistic action of the inspiratory and expiratory musculature; gastrointestinal reactions of a specialized nature, and postural characteristics of the head, body and appendages typically adapted to the process of expulsion of the gastric contents. In addition, there are psychic and cardiovascular effects which fit into the total integrated response.

Although the movements of the different muscle groups used in vomiting were not understood until the publication of the classic work of Cannon,2 the orderly sequence of events during emesis had already led Giannuzzi,3 in 1865, to postulate the existence of a "vomiting center."

In the past few decades it has been the vogue for physiologists to label as a center any part

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