Victor Alexander Haden Horsley was born in London, on April 14, 1857. He studied medicine and specialized in neurosurgery and in physiology. He was the first physician to remove a spinal tumour by surgery, in 1887. He developed many practical neurosurgical techniques, and carried out studies of the functions of the brain in animals and humans, particularly on the cerebral cortex. His studies on motor response to faradic stimulation of the cerebral cortex, internal capsule and spinal cord became classics of the field.
He was also a pioneer in the study of the functions of the thyroid gland. He studied myxedem and cretinism, which are caused by a decreased level of the thyroid hormones, and established for the first time that they could be treated with extracts of the gland.
His best known innovation is the Horsley-Clarke system and apparatus (developed together with Robert H. Clarke in 1908) for performing the so-called stereotactic surgery of the brain, whereby a set of precise numerical coordinates are used to locate each brain structure.
Horsley was knighted in 1902. He died in Amarah, Iraq, on July 16, 1916, of heatstroke, while serving as field surgeon for the British Army during World War I.
|From: The History of Psychosurgery
Author: Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD
Source: Brain & Mind Magazine, June 1997