Between Clinic and Experiment: Wilder Penfield's Stimulation Reports and the Search for Mind, 1929-55

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8 Scopus citations


In medicine, the realm of the clinic and the realm of experimentation often overlap and conflict, and physicians have to develop practices to negotiate their differences. The work of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1891-1976) is a case in point. Engaging closely with the nearly 5,000 pages of unpublished and hitherto unconsidered reports of electrical cortical stimulation that Penfield compiled between 1929 and 1955, I trace how Penfield's interest shifted from the production of hospital-based records designed to help him navigate the brains of individual patients to the construction of universal brain maps to aid his search for an ever-elusive "mind." Reading the developments of Penfield's operation records over time, I examine the particular ways in which Penfield straddled the individual and the universal while attempting to align his clinical and scientific interests, thereby exposing his techniques to standardize and normalize his brain maps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-320
Number of pages40
JournalCanadian bulletin of medical history = Bulletin canadien d'histoire de la médecine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • Wilder Penfield
  • brain mapping
  • cartographie du cerveau
  • clinical neurology
  • electrical cortical stimulation
  • esprit
  • experimentation
  • expérimentation
  • mind
  • neurologie clinique
  • neuroscience
  • stimulation électrique corticale


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