Excerpt from The Dublin Journal of Medical Science, 1877, Vol. 1
It is essential, in order to understand fully what I shall have to sav in these lectures, to recognise, in the first place, the immense power that any irritation possesses in producing a variety of phenomena of the most intense and violent description, and in the next place to recognise the difference between the cessation of a function and the loss of a function, as produced by such irritation. If you consider, for instance, what takes place when we take away a small bit of gray matter from the nib of the calamus in the medulla oblongata, you will have a clear illustration of the difference between the effect of irritation and the cessation of a function.
When M. Flourens made the experiment of taking away a small bit of gray matter from the nib of the calamus, he found that death was immediate. Had he pursued his study further he would have found that that death is accompanied by phenomena which are of a most interesting nature. But let us not now mind these phenomena. What is important for us is the immediate cessation of almost all the actions of life which then takes place.
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