Pierre Flourens

French physiologist Pierre Flourens was a pioneer in the use of anesthesia. He showed that chloroform could be very effectively used on animals and people. He also is known for his studies of bone formation.

Flourens was a strong advocate of using experimental methodology. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the Academy of Sciences of Paris to study the claims of phrenologist Franz Gall. Phrenology had become so accepted in the general population that the scientific community was concerned. To settle the dispute, the Academy choose Flourens to investigate the matter.

Flourens showed that Gall was partially correct; the brain does have different areas of function. Perfecting the technique on pigeons, Flourens removed portions of the brain and observed the effects. His extirpation procedure (destroying small parts of the brain) revealed that each part of the nervous system had its own function and acted as a unit. Removal of the cerebral hemispheres resulted in loss of perception and judgment. Removal of the cerebellum caused loss of equilibrium and an inability to coordinate motor movements. Removal of the brainstem resulted in death.

Check out this video on Psychology and Experimental Physiology.


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