The famous “Frog Heart Experiment” made it to the waking life of Dr. Otto Loewi from the realm of dreams, helping him to solve one of the pressing medical questions of his time.
Dr. Otto Loewi is also known as the “Father of Neuroscience” for his contributions to that field.
In the early 1920’s, right around the time when scientists discovered that the absence of vitamin D causes rickets, they still did not know whether nerves communicate using bio-electricity or chemicals. In a decisive experiment, now famously known as the “Frog Heart Experiment,” Dr. Otto Loewi found the truth.
Dream on Easter Night
It is said that on Easter Saturday of 1923, Dr. Loewi dreamed of an experiment that would prove once and for all that transmission of nerve impulses was chemical and not electrical. He woke up, and like a good dream journalist, scribbled the experiment onto a scrap of paper on his nightstand, and went back to sleep.
Longest Day of His Life
The next day, Dr. Loewi could not read his own writing, and could make no sense of it. Obviously, he was upset and reportedly said that it was the longest day of his life. Fortunately, the following night he had the same dream again, and this time he got out of the bed and went straight to work to carry out the experiment.
The Nobel Prize
In that experiment, Dr. Loewi slowed down the heart of one frog using a chemical, and then took some fluid from that frog’s heart and applied it to another frog’s heart, slowing the second heart down as well. This showed that the synaptic signaling used in the nerves were controlled through chemical changes.
Thirteen years later, in 1936, Loewi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Sir Henry Hallett Dale.
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- Frog Heart Experimenta