|Wilder Graves Penfield|
Wilder Penfield, 1934
January 26, 1891|
Spokane, Washington, United States
|Died||April 5, 1976
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Wilder Graves Penfield, OM, CC, CMG, FRS (January 26, 1891 – April 5, 1976) was a Canadian neurosurgeon. During his life he was called "the greatest living Canadian". He devoted much thinking to the functionings of the mind, and continued until his death to contemplate whether there was any scientific basis for the existence of the human soul.
Penfield was born in Spokane, Washington (but spent most of his life in Hudson, Wisconsin) on January 25 or January 26, 1891. He studied at Princeton University where he played on the football team. After graduation in 1913, he was hired briefly as the coach. He then obtained a Rhodes Scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, where he studied neuropathology under Sir Charles Scott Sherrington. He obtained his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. He spent several years training at Oxford, where he met William Osler. In 1924 he worked for five months with Pio del Rio-Hortega characterising the type of glial cells known as oligodendroglia. He also studied in Germany, and New York.
After taking surgical apprenticeship under Harvey Cushing, he obtained a position at the Neurological Institute of New York, where he carried out his first solo operations against epilepsy. While in New York, he met David Rockefeller, who desired to endow an institute where Penfield could study the surgical treatment of epilepsy. However, academic politics among the New York neurologists prevented the establishment of this institute in New York; subsequently, Penfield was invited by Sir Vincent Meredith to Montreal in 1928. There, Penfield taught at McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital, becoming the city's first neurosurgeon.
In 1934 he founded and became the first Director of McGill University's world-famous Montreal Neurological Institute and the associated Montreal Neurological Hospital, which was established with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, 1934 is also the year he became a Canadian citizen. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1950. He retired in 1960 and turned his attention to writing, producing a novel as well as his autobiography, No Man Alone. (A later biography, Something Hidden, was written by his grandson, Jefferson Lewis.)
He was awarded the 1960 Lister Medal for his contributions to surgical science. The corresponding Lister Oration, given at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, was delivered on April 27, 1961, and was titled 'Activation of the Record of Human Experience'. In 1967 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 1994 he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Much of his archival material is housed at the Osler Library of McGill University.
In his later years, Penfield dedicated himself to the public interest, particularly in support of university education. With his friends Governor-General Georges Vanier and Mrs. Pauline Vanier, née Archer, he co-founded the Vanier Institute of the Family, which Penfield helped found "to promote and guide education in the home -- man's first classroom." He was also an early proponent of bilingualism from childhood onward.
Neural Stimulation 
Penfield was a groundbreaking researcher and highly original surgeon. With his colleague, Herbert Jasper, he invented the Montreal procedure, in which he treated patients with severe epilepsy by destroying nerve cells in the brain where the seizures originated. Before operating, he stimulated the brain with electrical probes while the patients were conscious on the operating table (under only local anesthesia), and observed their responses. In this way he could more accurately target the areas of the brain responsible, reducing the side-effects of the surgery.
This technique also allowed him to create maps of the sensory and motor cortices of the brain (see cortical homunculus) showing their connections to the various limbs and organs of the body. These maps are still used today, practically unaltered. Along with Herbert Jasper, he published this work in 1951 (2nd ed., 1954) as the landmark Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain. This work contributed a great deal to understanding the lateralization of brain function. Penfield's maps showed considerable overlap between regions (i.e. the motor region controlling muscles in the hand sometimes also controlled muscles in the upper arm and shoulder) a feature which he put down to individual variation in brain size and localisation; we now know that this is due to the fractured somatotropy of the motor cortex.
Penfield reported that stimulation of the temporal lobes could lead to vivid recall of memories. Oversimplified in popular psychology publications, including the best-selling I'm OK, You're OK, this seeded the common misconception that the brain continuously "records" experiences in perfect detail, although these memories are not available to conscious recall. In reality, however, the reported episodes of recall occurred in less than five percent of his patients, and these results have not been replicated by modern surgeons. His development of the neurosurgical technique that produced the less injurious meningo-cerebral scar became widely accepted in the field of neurosurgery, where the "Penfield dissector" is still in daily use.
Avenue du Docteur-Penfield (Mount Royal in Montreal, was named in Penfield's honour on October 5, 1978. Part of this avenue borders McGill's campus and actually intersects with Promenade Sir-William-Osler - to the amusement of many medical historians who can say "meet me at Osler and Penfield". Ironically, Randolph Evans November 25 1976 (year of Wilder Penfield's death) shooting death by NYPD's Robert Torsney was named for the epileptic condition he named Automatism of Penfield that Officer Torsney was diagnosed with.), on the slope of
Pop culture references 
Wilder Penfield was the subject of a memorable Heritage Minute, dramatizing his development of the Montreal procedure. When Dr. Penfield stimulates the seizure-producing part of her brain, an epileptic patient exclaims: "I can smell burnt toast!" This Heritage Minute was widely shown and made Penfield a household name throughout Canada.
Dead Sea Apes, a Manchester, UK based psychedelic rock band have a song entitled Wilder Penfield, from The Sun Behind The Sun, their collaboration with Black Tempest, to be released in February 2013 on Cardinal Fuzz records.
- "Wilder Penfield". PBS. Retrieved 2010-02-07. "Wilder Penfield was born in Spokane, Washington, and spent much of his youth in Hudson, Wisconsin. ... During his life he was called "the greatest living Canadian.""
- He used the date of 26 January 1891 in the World War I draft registration
- Gill, AS; DK Binder (may 2007). "Wilder Penfield, Pío del Río-Hortega, and the discovery of oligodendroglia". Neurosurgery. 60(5): discussion 940–8. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
- "Wilder Penfield". Princeton University. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter P". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
- Lister Medal, Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1961 January; 28(1): 15.
- 'Activation of the Record of Human Experience', Wilder Penfield, Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1961 August; 29(2): 77–84.
- "W. G. Penfield, Neurologist, Dies. Refined Techniques to Treat Epilepsy Founded an Institute in Montreal". New York Times. April 5, 1976. Retrieved 2010-02-07. "Dr. Wilder G. Penfield, one of the world's foremost neurologists who honed surgical techniques for treating epilepsy, died yesterday of abdominal cancer at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. He was 85 years old."
- Penfield, W. Memory Mechanisms. AMA Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 67(1952):178-198.
- Jensen, Eric (2005). Teaching With the Brain in Mind (2nd ed. ed.). Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ISBN 1-4166-0030-2.
- "Wilder Penfield". soundcloud.com. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
Selected books and publications 
- Epilepsy and Cerebral Localization: A Study of the Mechanism, Treatment and Prevention of Epileptic Seizures. Penfield, W., and Theodore C. Erickson. Charles C Thomas, 1941.
- Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain. 2nd edition. Jasper, H., and Penfield, W. Little, Brown and Co., 1954. ISBN 0-316-69833-4
- The Torch. Penfield, W. Little, Brown and Co.; 1960. ISBN 1-299-80119-6. "A story of love, treachery, and the battle for truth in ancient Greece."
- The Mystery of the Mind : A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain. Penfield, Wilder. Princeton University Press, 1975. ISBN 0-691-02360-3
- No Man Alone: A Surgeon's Life. Little, Brown and Co., 1977. ISBN 0-316-69839-3. Penfield's autobiography.
- Something hidden : a biography of Wilder Penfield . Jefferson Lewis, Doubleday and Co., 1981. ISBN 0-385-17696-1.
- Speech and Brain Mechanisms, Penfield, Wilder and Roberts, Lamar, Princeton University Press, 1959.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Wilder Penfield|
- Famous Canadian Physicians: Dr. Wilder Penfield at Library and Archives Canada
- Penfield's Order of Canada Citation
- Watch the Heritage Minute vignette
- Penfield archives at the Osler Library
- Great Canadian Psychology Website - Penfield Biography