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Sherrington, Sir Charles Scott

reflex nervous system london

(1857–1952) British neurophysiologist: made important studies of the nervous system.

A Cambridge graduate in medicine, Sherrington studied also in Germany under , researched in bacteriology and afterwards taught physiology at London and Liverpool, and at Oxford from 1913–35. He was a sports enthusiast, including Sunday-morning parachute jumps (from the tower of a London hospital) among his many activities. His main work was on reflex motor activity in vertebrates, detailing the nature of muscle operation at the spinal level. He began with a close study of the knee-jerk reflex and its control, and the hind-limb scratch reflex in the dog. A whole range of concepts and words in neurology are due to him (including synapse, proprioceptor, motor unit, neuron pool and others) and his book The Integrative Action of the Nervous System (1906) is a classic of neurology. He continued to be an active experimenter, especially on the reflex system, until 1935, publishing over 300 papers on this. He shared a Nobel Prize with in 1932. He has been called ‘the William Harvey of the nervous system’.

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