Google Doodle is celebrating the life of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield on Jan. 26, which would have been his 127th birthday. Here’s what you need to know!
1. Wilder Penfield was a pioneer in mapping the brain and brain surgery techniques to treat epilepsy. Wilder, who attended Princeton University and Oxford University, was a dedicated researcher and surgeon. In the 1950s, he experimented using electrical probes to treat seizure activity in the brain while the patient was awake. This surgery was dubbed the Montreal Procedure and led to a greater understanding about the treatment of epilepsy and “stimulating certain physical parts of the brain could evoke memory recall,” according to Google. He also developed a map of the brain, often showed as a cartoon called the motor homunculus (miniature human being), according to PBS. Over the course of his career, Wilder was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm, France’s Croix de la Legion d’honeur, and Britain’s Order of Merit.
2. He became Montreal’s first neurosurgeon. In 1928, Wilder moved to Montreal to teach at McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. A few years later in 1934, Wilder helped establish the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. He was the institute’s first director. He also became a Canadian citizen that year! Wilder was once considered the “the greatest living Canadian.”
3. Wilder worked for the military during World War I. He took a break from his studies at Oxford to serve in France in 1916 as a dresser. He was wounded in 1917 while aboard the S.S. Sussex.
4. Wilder was also a football coach! Wilder served as the head coach of the Princeton Tigers football team in 1914.
5. He died of cancer. Wilder was 85 years old when he died of abdominal cancer in 1976. He spent his last years writing his autobiography. The final manuscript was sent to the publisher just three weeks before his death, according The New York Times.
HollywoodLifers, did you know who Wilder was before today’s Google Doodle? Let us know!