טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentMoshe Feinsod
SubjectThe Nineteenth Century Endeavor of Cerebral Thermometry.
Did it Contribute to Functional Imaging?
DepartmentDepartment of Medicine
Supervisor Professor Kahn Itamar


Abstract

In the early 1860s, based upon the formulation of the energy conservation principle, the physiologist, Claude Bernard, declared that "Whenever the spinal marrow and the nerves exhibit sensibility or movement, or intellectual effort takes place in the brain, a corresponding quantity of heat is evolved in it.” This concept, imbedded in the mind of clinicians and physiologists generated attempts, studied here in detail for the first time, to develop the field of cerebral thermometry.

In this thesis I tried first, to resurrect and reconstruct the work done and then to try and enter the laboratories and reveal, in detail, how the experiments were really conducted. This thesis is the first full description with an in depth study of the thermometric techniques and the experimental methods that were employed in the cerebral thermometry endeavor.

Human cerebral thermometry was born in the patient’s halls of the asylums for the insane as thermometers were applied to the patients' heads to find a temperature rise in the agitated state. The idea that the temperature of the diseased or deranged brain can be studied by thermometry became a challenge to neuropsychiatry and neurophysiology. The clinicians of Europe and the US followed the eminent Paul Broca and tried to diagnose cerebral diseases by applying several specially devised mercury thermometers over the scalp. They refused to accept the warnings that the heat, of the brain, cannot be picked by their thermometers. This endeavor was finally abandoned. The same fate awaited the attempt of J.S. Lombard delusion that highly sensitive thermocouples will disclose reliable temperature changes of a ten thousandth of a centigrade evoked by mental and emotional activities of the brain.

His immense effort proved to be Sisyphean but the ideas that sparkled like the use of the heat map in order to try to follow the dynamics of functional cerebral activity as well as the accurate, coordinates base mapping of the head compensate his ignorance of statistical thinking that caused his self-deception.

It was Moritz Schiff and his Florentine school who proved that the only way to get meaningful temperature readings was to introduce fine thermocouple needles into the substance of the brain by a series of brilliant experiments he implanted chronic indwelling thermocouples in free moving chicken and could postulate that all sensory impressions arrive to the hemispheres of the brain and that stimuli with emotional content evoke higher temperature changes than simple sensations. Schiff's technique was much ahead of his time and is routinely employed nowadays.

Angelo Mosso and Hans Berger tried to improve Schiff's studies by inserting mercury filled thermometers into the brains of experimental animals and human patients. Their endeavors were veiled and are studied here in detail. Apart from breaking the basic ethical rules they fell into the trap of self-deception by "hyper accurate" readings that had no validation by statistical testing. Berger's ideas that led finally to the invention of the EEG machine antedated his thermometric endeavor which contributed to his holistic concepts of the working of the brain.