Understanding Edward Muybridge: Historical review of behavioral alterations after a 19th-century head injury and their multifactorial influence on human life and culture

Sunil Manjila, Gagandeep Singh, Ayham M. Alkhachroum, Ciro Ramos-Estebanez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Edward Muybridge was an Anglo-American photographer, well known for his pioneering contributions in photography and his invention of the "zoopraxiscope," a forerunner of motion pictures. However, this 19th-century genius, with two original patents in photographic technology, made outstanding contributions in art and neurology alike, the latter being seldom acknowledged. A head injury that he sustained changed his behavior and artistic expression. The shift of his interests from animal motion photography to human locomotion and gait remains a pivotal milestone in our understanding of patterns in biomechanics and clinical neurology, while his own behavioral patterns, owing to an injury to the orbitofrontal cortex, remain a mystery even for cognitive neurologists. The behavioral changes he exhibited and the legal conundrum that followed, including a murder of which he was acquitted, all depict the complexities of his personality and impact of frontal lobe injuries. This article highlights the life journey of Muybridge, drawing parallels with Phineas Gage, whose penetrating head injury has been studied widely. The wide sojourn of Muybridge also illustrates the strong connections that he maintained with Stanford and Pennsylvania universities, which were later considered pinnacles of higher education on the two coasts of the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE4
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Behavioral neurology
  • History of medicine
  • Muybridge
  • Obsessive-compulsive
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Photography
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Zoopraxiscope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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