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Stereotaxic apparatus, England, 1900-1910

A stereotaxic apparatus is used to accurately pin point areas of the brain for surgery and was also used for physiological research. The apparatus was invented by Robert Henry Clarke (1850-1926), a surgeon and physiologist. Clarke worked in association with Sir Victor Horsley (1857-1916), the pioneer of neurosurgery. Part of Horsley’s research was to discover the function of the deep seated part of the cerebellum in the brain. The only way to do so was to accurately stimulate or destroy specific parts with electrodes. In the early 1900s, Clarke set about making an atlas of cat and monkey brains, marking the relationship between the skull and the brain by inserting long ivory needles through the ears. The brains were then frozen and cut into 2 mm-thick slices to create map references. The notebook is an example of an atlas using photographs and 3-D coordinates. The wooden grid is used to adjust the locations for variations in the sizes of skulls. Clarke also invented a spinal version of the apparatus. The device was made by J Swift & Son.

Object number:

1981-1688

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Glossary:

Glossary: stereotaxic apparatus

Apparatus for a system of three-dimensional coordinates to locate the site to be operated on during brain surgery.

Glossary: cerebellum

The cerebellum is traditionally recognised as the area of the brain that regulates muscle tone and coordination of movement. There is also evidence it contributes to non-motor functions such as thought processes and emotions.