Francois Magendie

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Magendie, François

(fräNswä` mäzhäNdē`), 1783–1855, French physician. He taught at the Collège de France and is considered a founder of experimental physiology. He distinguished the motor and sensory portions of peripheral nerves and studied the function of veins, the effect of air in arteries, and the uses and effects of various drugs.

Magendie, François


Born Oct. 6, 1783, in Bordeaux; died Oct. 7, 1855, in Sannois, department of Seine-et-Oise (according to other data, Oct. 8, 1855, in Paris). French physiologist. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1821; vice-president, 1836) and the Medical Academy (1819).

Magendie was one of the first to use the experimental method in animal physiology. (This approach was carried on by his pupil, C. Bernard). The best known of Magendie’s works deal with the physiology of the nervous system. In 1822 he proved experimentally that the anterior roots of the spinal cord are efferent (motor) and that the posterior roots are afferent (sensory). This is known as the Bell-Magendie law. Magendie did research on the trophic influence of the trigeminal nerve on eye tissue, the sensitivity of the cerebral cortex to pain stimuli, the significance of subcortical nerve centers in the coordination of movement, and the properties of cerebrospinal fluid. He also studied the mechanisms of the digestive tract and described the act of vomiting.


Précis élémentaire de physiologie, 3rd ed., vols. 1-2. Paris, 1833.


Karlik, L. N. “Fransua Mazhandi.” Klinicheskaia meditsina, 1959, vol. 37, no. 2.