Previously published in Examiner and Factoidz
Once the neurosurgeons realized that behavior could be controlled by the neuropathways in the brain, more experimentation was done on animals.
However, other less than moral scientists continued their experimentation on human subjects.
Prefrontal leucotomy – 1935
Leucotomies were preformed on humans in 1935. It was this early research that brought in the heyday of prefrontal lobotomies commencing a year later. Leucotomies involved trepanning the brain (burring holes in the brain) to control violent behavior in patients. Previous experimentation existed only in Europe then animal research made its debut in America in 1935.
Carlyle Jacobsen, doctor and researcher from Yale University performed prefrontal lobotomies on chimps. Their frontal lobes were destroyed, just like scientists destroyed the frontal lobes of humans in Europe. Jacobsen found that the chimps were much calmer after the operation.
His work and the work of another American researcher, John Fulton who attempted an “experimental neurosis” on chimps who had undergone lobotomies.
His work also spurred on the work of Portuguese psychiatrist, Antonio Egaz Moniz, from the University of Lisbon Medical School, to popularize human leucotomies.
Antonio Egaz Moniz – 1935
Though many believe that Antonio Egaz Moniz was inspired by the work done on primates, there are others who maintain that he was inspired by the work of Richard Brickner, who ablated the prefrontal lobes in his patients (removed material from the frontal lobes of a patient).
Muniz published in 1932 that while the patient experienced flat affect (the absence of emotion) there were no intellectual deficits.
Moniz was already celebrated because of improving existing brain therapy techniques prior to his work with lobotomies and neural pathways. Moniz was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and also the ambassador to Spain. He was also one of the original signers of the treaty of Versailles at the end of the First World War. He held quite a bit of political and scientific clout in his day.
Muniz enlisted Almeida Lima, a neurosurgeon, to aid in his research and therapy for his most severely mentally disturbed patients suffering from psychosis. Lima disconnected the nerve pathways from the frontal lobes to the hypothalamus. Muniz believed that by surgical tampering, the repetitive psychotic thoughts in his patients would come to an end.
Montrealers have a wonderful world renown neurological hospital: The Montreal Neurological Institute.