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"Neuron Energy and Its Psychomotor Manifestations" (1898)

George V. Dearborn

Psychological Review, 1899, 6, 341-343.


        Neuron Energy and its Psychomotor Manifestations. IRA VAN GIESON and BORIS SIDIS. Archives of Neurology and Psychopathology. Vol. 1., No. 1, 1898. Pp. 5-24.  Article

        This is the first article in the State Hospitals Bulletin under its new title and in its greatly improved dress. The object of the article, announced as only preliminary, is thus stated by its authors: "We intend here to set forth, in a concrete, diagrammatic form a theory that attempts to correlate the various general manifestations of psychomotor life with more or less definite physiological processes depending on the expenditure or restitution of reserve energy."

       Many useful and precise definitions occur, and the article is especially rich (about three pages) in seemingly elaborate algebraic formulŠ expressing the various sorts of metabolism of the neuron-groups. Psychopathies indicates psychic disaggregation correlative to dissociation within constellations of neurons, the neuron itself remaining uninjured; while Neuropathies is defined as "a group of psychophysical manifestations running parallel to fluctuations of static energy and accompanied by organic changes in the neuron." In mental disease psychopathies may become neuropathies, and the latter may go on to cytoclasis through processes of catalysis and cytolysis.

    "The cycles in dynamic energy correspond to the physiological manifestations of the nervous system in the activity and rest of the individual in normal daily life. Concomitant with the expenditure of dynamic energy of the neurons, the individual passes through the active normal normal waking state, and hand in hand with the restitution of this expended dynamic energy, he passes through the sleeping state of normal daily life. When, however, in the expenditure of energy, the border line is crossed, dynamic energy is used up and static energy is drawn upon. The border line that separates the normal physiological from the abnormal or pathological psychomotor manifestations is stepped over. * * * * Catalysis corresponds to liberation of the upper levels of static energy, and is accompanied by retraction of aggregates of neurons, bringing about the phenomena of psychophysiological dissociation. Restitution of the energy expended in the catalytic process is accompanied by expansion or synthesis of the neurons, which are again able to transmit or receive impulses in the particular aggregate to which they belong. An arrest or halt after the expenditure of energy in these upper static levels, corresponds again to a state of retraction of the neuron or catalysis. * * * * Broadly speaking, psychopathies run parallel to the phenomena of retraction and expansion of aggregates of neurons, while neuropathies are concomitant with actual degeneration of the neuron, especially of its cytolymph. * * * * This one continuous process of liberation of neuron energy may cover the life of a single individual or may extend over the life history of many generations.

        "The continuous descending pathological process may spread out in time and space, may extend over a long duration of time and embrace a great number of individuals. The tide of neuron energy may ebb away gradually, leaving each succeeding generation on a lower stage and deeper level in the continuous process of neuron disaggregation and degeneration, thus giving rise to the different stages and manifestations of congenital degeneracy. Many of the so-called degeneracies and the congenital diseases of the nervous system arise, we believe, in this way."

        "We may conclude this brief preliminary communication," say these two scientists of the Pathological Institute, "with a few laws relating to the metabolic processes of neuron activity: I. Catalysis stands in direct and synthesis in inverse ratio to the number of disaggregated neuron associations. II. All other conditions remaining the same, the instability of a cell aggregate is proportionate to the number and complexity of its associative functioning groups. III. The stability of a neuron aggregate is proportionate to the frequency and duration of its associative activity. IV. The instability of a neuron aggregate is proportionate to the frequency and location of the interruptions in its functioning history. V. The mass of formed metaplasm granules stands in direct relation to the intensity cytolysis and in inverse ratio to the progress of cytothesis.


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