Luigi Galvani's Contributions to Psychology

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  • 0:05 Luigi Galvani's Contributions
  • 1:22 Alessandro Volta
  • 1:56 Mechanistic Psychology
  • 2:36 Giovanni Aldini
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Luigi Galvani's experiment on frogs with electricity has had a long lasting effect on the medical field. This lesson discusses those contributions and their consequences.

Luigi Galvani's Contributions

Luigi Galvani is known as the forefather of bioelectric magnetics. Although he started out wanting a career in the church, he ended up going to school to study medicine and surgery. He eventually became a professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, where he conducted extensive research. During that time, he turned the focus of his research to the medical uses of electricity. This field had become popular in the 18th century, and Galvani was at the forefront of the field.

The story goes that Galvani was working on a frog in his lab, when a static electrical charge carried through a scalpel to the frog, which shocked the frog's leg and made it move like the frog was still alive. This led to the study of how electricity can affect the body and the theory that the body has electrical current of its own. The process of contracting muscles with the use of electrical current was coined Galvanism. Galvani believed the electricity was created within the animal itself, and believed he had found a whole new type of electricity. He called this animal electricity, though the present day term for this is electrophysiology. Although Galvani gained notoriety from this discovery, there were scientists who opposed his ideas.

Alessandro Volta

Alessandro Volta was a physicist who was also interested in the electric capacity of the body. He started using Galvanism to try his own experiments, which brought him to the conclusion that Galvani was wrong. He did not think that the body carried the electrical current; instead he thought it was just the electrical current that was responsible. His research inspired him to create the very first battery, which he called the Voltaic pile. Volta's working battery seemed to disprove Galvani's idea of animal electricity, which made Galvani back away from his work.

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