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J. Hughlings Jackson

Date of birth : 1835-04-04
Date of death : 1911-10-07
Birthplace : Providence Green, England
Nationality : English
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-20

John Hughlings Jackson, (4 April 1835 - 7 October 1911), was an English neurologist.He was born at Providence Green, Green Hammerton, near Harrogate, Yorkshire, the youngest son of Samuel Jackson, a yeoman who owned and farmed his land, and the former Sarah Hughlings, the daughter of a Welsh revenue collector.

Jackson was an innovative thinker and a prolific and lucid, if sometimes repetitive, writer. Though his range of interests was wide, he is best remembered for his seminal contributions to the diagnosis and understanding of epilepsy in all its forms and complexities. His name is attached eponymously to the characteristic "march" of symptoms in focal motor seizures and to the so-called "dreamy state" of psychomotor seizures of temporal lobe origin. His papers on the latter variety of epilepsy have seldom been bettered in their descriptive clinical detail or in their analysis of the relationship of psychomotor epilepsy to various patterns of pathological automatism and other mental and behavioural disorders.

Jackson studied seizures, nervous-system disorders, and speech defects cause by brain disorders. He was a leading proponent of the idea that convulsions are a symptom, not a disease. Based on observation and autopsy, without animal experiments or even a microscope, he correctly determined that different bodily functions are controlled by specific regions of the cerebral cortex, and that some forms of epilepsy are caused by localized cortical disorders in the cerebrum. He was also among the first physicians to describe the relationship between ocular and cerebral disease.

Together with his friends Sir David Ferrier and Sir James Crichton-Browne, two eminent neuropsychiatrists of his time, Jackson was one of the founders of the important Brain journal, which was dedicated to the interaction between experimental and clinical neurology (still being published today). Its inaugural issue came to light in 1878.

In 1892, Jackson was one of the founding members of the National Society for the Employment of Epileptics (now the National Society for Epilepsy), along with Sir William Gowers and Sir David Ferrier.

Jackson's own wife died of an epileptic condition which he had studied and which came to be called Jacksonian epilepsy. After his wife's death Dr Jackson became a near-total recluse, rarely leaving his home except to continue his medical research. His brother, William Jackson, was an early settler in New Zealand, active in the Waikato wars and later a member of the New Zealand's parliament.

Author of books:
-Neurological Fragments of J. Hughlings Jackson (1925, collected research, posthumous)
-Selected Writings of John Hughlings Jackson (1931, two volumes)


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