Walter Rudolf Hess


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Hess, Walter Rudolf

 

Born Mar. 17, 1881, in Frauenfeld; died Aug. 12, 1973, in Zürich. Swiss physiologist.

Hess studied medicine at the universities of Lausanne, Bern, Kiel, Berlin, and Zürich (1900–05). He received his medical degree in 1906. Hess taught physiology at the universities of Zürich and Bonn from 1913 to 1917. He was a professor of physiology and director of the Physiological Institute in Zürich from 1917 to 1951. He became a professor emeritus in 1951.

Hess showed that the diencephalon (interbrain) plays an integrative role in the execution of autonomic, behavioral, and motor reactions. By stimulating the subthalamic region with pulses of a certain current intensity, he was able to induce sleep in animals. Hess advanced a theory of subcortical mechanisms of sleep, which emphasized the importance of the role of the parasympathetic nervous system. Using electric stimulation and destroying several structures in wakeful animals, he discovered the topographical representation of the emotions of rage and fear in the diencephalon (1949). Hess was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1949 (jointly with A. Moniz).

WORKS

“Das Schlafsyndrom als Folge-dienzephaler Reizung.” Helvetica physiologica et Pharmacologica acta, 1944, vol. 2, fasc. 2.
Das Zwischenhirn: Syndrome, Lokalisationen, Funktionen, 2nd ed. Basel, 1954.
The Functional Organization of the Diencephalon. New York, 1957.
Hypothalamus und Thalamus. Stuttgart, 1956.
The Biology of Mind. Chicago-London, 1964.