Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: If we look at the base of a brain, which has just been removed from the skull, there's very little of the mid-brain that we can actually see. Yet, as I demonstrated in my lecture last week, if the under aspects of the temporal lobes are gently pulled apart, the upper portion of the stem of the brain can be seen. The so-called 'brain stem' consists of the mid-brain, a rounded protrusion called the pons, and a stalk tapering downwards called the medulla oblongata, which passes out of the skull through the foramen magnum, and becomes, of course, the spinal cord. Are there any questions before we proceed?
Medical Student: I have one question, Dr. Frankenstein.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: That's 'Fronkensteen'.
Medical Student: I beg your pardon?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: My name; it's pronounced 'Fronkensteen.'
Medical Student: But aren't you the grandson of the famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein who went into graveyards, dug up freshly buried corpses, and transformed dead components into...?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Yes! Yes, yes! We all know what he did; but I'd rather be remembered for my own small contributions to science, and not because of my accidental relationship... to a famous... cuckoo. [the medical students laugh] Now if you don't mind, can we get on with your question?
Medical Student: Well, sir, I'm not sure I understand the distinction between reflexive and voluntary nerve impulses.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Very good. Since our lab work today is a demonstration of just that distinction, why don't we proceed? [Dr. Frankenstein rings a small desktop gong and two lab assistants wheel in an elderly man on a gurney] Mr. Hilltop here - with whom I have never worked, nor given any prior instructions to - has graciously offered his services for this afternoon's demonstration. Mr. Hilltop, would you hop up on your feet and stand beside this table? [Mr. Hilltop slowly steps down from the gurney] Nice hopping. Mr. Hilltop, would you raise your left knee, please? [Mr. Hilltop slowly raises his left knee] You have just witnessed a voluntary nerve impulse. It begins as a stimulus from the cerebral cortex, passes through the brain stem and to the particular muscles involved. Mr. Hilltop, you may lower your knee. [Mr. Hilltop lowers his left knee] Reflex movements are those which are made independently of the will, but are carried out along pathways which pass between the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. You fithy, rotten yellow son of a bitch! [Dr. Frankenstein puts his hand on Mr. Hilltop's right shoulder and hits Mr. Hilltop's left thigh with his left knee; the students gasp at Mr. Hilltop's involuntarily winces from Dr. Frankenstein's sudden move] We are not aware of these impulses, neither do we intend them to carry out our contraction of muscles; yet as you can see, they work by themselves. But what if we block the nerve impulse by simply applying local pressure? Which can be done with any ordinary metal clamp just at the swelling, on the posterior nerve roots... for oh say, five or six seconds. [Dr. Frankenstein puts the clamp on the back of Hilltop's neck and looks at his watch for a few seconds] Why, you mother-grabbing bastard! [Dr. Frankenstein gives Hilltop another knee hit to his left thigh, but this time he makes no involuntary reaction and is still standing up] As you can see, all communication is shut off. [whimpers in pain] In spite of our mechanical magnificence, if it were not for this continuous stream... of motor impulses, we would collapse like a bunch of broccoli! [Dr. Frankenstein removes the clamp from Hilltop's neck; Hilltop faints and moans while the students applaud] Ohh, ohh! In conclusion, it should be noted... [whispers to the intern] Give him an extra dollar.
Orderly in Frankenstein's Class: [whispers to Dr. Frankenstein] An extra dollar, yes sir.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: That any more than common injury to the nerve root is always serious.
Mr. Hilltop: [Mr. Hilltop is carried out on a gurney] Ohh, ohh, ohhh!
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Because once a nerve fiber is severed, there is no way in heaven or on earth to regenerate life back into it.”
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