The Discovery of Motor Cortex and its Background
In 1870 Gustav Fritsch and Edvard Hitzig showed that electrical stimulation of the cerebral cortex of a dog produced movements. This was a crucial event in the development of modern neuroscience because it was the first good experimental evidence for a) cerebral cortex involvement in motor function, b) the electrical excitability of the cortex, c) topographic representation in the brain, and d) localization of function in different regions of the cerebral cortex. This paper discusses their experiment and some developments in the previous two centuries that led to it including the ideas of Thomas Willis and Emanuel Swedenborg, the widespread interest in electricity and the localizations of function of Franz Joseph Gall, John Hughlings Jackson, and Paul Broca. We also consider the subsequent study of the motor cortex by David Ferrier and others.