- Adrian , Edgar Douglas
- Adrian , Edgar Douglas, Baron Adrian of Cambridge(1889–1977) British neurophysiologistAdrian, a lawyer's son, was born in London and studied at Cambridge University and St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he obtained his MD in 1915. He returned to Cambridge in 1919, was appointed professor of physiology in 1937, and became the master of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1951, an office he retained until his retirement in 1965. He was raised to the British peerage in 1955.Adrian's greatest contribution to neurophysiology was his work on the nerve impulse. When he began it was known that nerves transmit nerve impulses as signals, but knowledge of the frequency and control of such impulses was minimal. The first insight into this process came from Adrian's colleague Keith Lucas, who demonstrated in 1905 that the impulse obeyed the ‘all-or-none’ law. This asserted that below a certain threshold of stimulation a nerve does not respond. However, once the threshold is reached the nerve continues to respond by a fixed amount however much the stimulation increases. Thus, increased stimulation, although it stimulates more fibers, does not affect the magnitude of the signal itself.It was not until 1925 that Adrian advanced beyond this position. By painstaking surgical techniques he succeeded in separating individual nerve fibers and amplifying and recording the small action potentials in these fibers. By studying the effect of stretching the sternocutaneous muscle of the frog, Adrian demonstrated how the nerve, even though it transmits an impulse of fixed strength, can still convey a complex message. He found that as the extension increased so did the frequency of the nerve impulse, rising from 10 to 50 impulses per second. Thus, he concluded that the message is conveyed by changes in the frequency of the discharge. For this work Adrian shared the 1932 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine with Charles Sherrington.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.