Penfield, Wilder Graves

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Penfield, Wilder Graves


Born Jan. 26, 1891, in Spokane, Wash. Canadian neurologist and neurosurgeon.

Penfield graduated from Princeton University in 1913 and received an M.D. degree in 1918. He became an associate professor at Columbia University in 1921. Since 1934 he has been a citizen of Canada. Between 1928 and 1960 he was professor of neurology and neurosurgery in Montreal and director of the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Penfield’s principal works are devoted to brain tumors, localization of functional areas of the cerebral cortex, and diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of epilepsy. He proposed the theory of the centrocephalic system as the highest level of integration of functions. Penfield’s name is given to the syndrome of paroxysmal hypertension that develops with brain tumors and to the symptom of obsessive thought that is an epileptic equivalent.

Penfield was president of the Vanier Institute of the Family from 1965 to 1968. He is a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1958) and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the London Royal Society, and many other societies. He has been awarded an order of the Legion of Honor.


Epilepsy and Cerebral Localization. Springfield-Baltimore, 1941. (With T. C. Erickson.)
The Cerebral Cortex of Man. New York, 1950. (With T. Rasmussen.)
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Wilder Penfield's 127th birthday and all the important work he did before his death at the age of 85.
Whether it's Wilder Penfield's patient exclaiming that she can smell burnt toast or John McCrae scribbling down his thoughts on poppies and death in World War I, there is at least one Heritage Minute that can be recalled vividly by most Canadians.
Regarding brain research, Le Fanu follows in the current of two of the greatest brain scientists of the twentieth century, the great neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1891-1976) and the Nobel laureate Sir John Eccles (1903-1997), in arguing that "cutting-edge" research results should elicit or revive in reflective minds the tradition of mind-brain dualism that, from Plato to Descartes, and long after, seemed self-evidently accurate to most reflective persons.
En effet, Monuments intellectuels quebecais examine des ouvrages aussi dissemblables que Les meubles anciens du Canada francais (1963) de Jean Palardy et The Cerebral Gartex of Man (1950) de Wilder Penfield. Les disciplines les mieux representees sont l'histoire (9 ouvrages), la psychologie et la neuroscience (4) et la sociologie (3).
The late Wilder Penfield, co-founder of the Montreal Neurological Institute (and a Presbyterian elder), once discussed this with our seminarians.
IN THE 1930s the Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield performed an operation on a patient who had uncontrollable epilepsy.