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JAMA 100 Years Ago
September 18, 2013

Environment and the Senses

JAMA. 2013;310(11):1188. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5315

Originally Published September 13, 1913 | JAMA. 1913;61(11):873- 874.

In an illuminating manner Dr. G. W. Crile has defended the thesis that environment has been the actual creator of man—that he is “a unified mechanism responding in every part to the adequate stimuli given it from without by the environment of the present and from within by the environment of the past, the record of which is stored in part in cells throughout the mechanism, but especially in its central battery—the brain.”1 As evidence for this contention respecting the influence of man’s surroundings throughout the ages in making him what he now is we have the remarkable behavior of those receptive organs or mechanisms by which the stimuli or impressions of our environment are appreciated and translated into appropriate responses. These “nerve ceptors,” to use Crile’s expression, are numerous—some for the transmission of stimuli harmful to the mechanism—nociceptors; some of a beneficial character—beneceptors, and still others more highly specialized, which partake of the nature of the two and comprise the special senses.