Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

An 1862 monograph by pioneering French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne (1806-1875) is full of disturbing photos of human subjects. Using electrodes, the scientist triggered muscular contractions in their faces. You know, for science.

Advertisement

The scientist was trying to figure out whether there was some kind of evolutionary basis for facial expressions, so he would shock various parts of his subjects' faces to see if he could regularly induce certain expressions.

Terror

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

Attention

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

Profound attention

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Reflexion

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Cruelty

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

Joy

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Crying

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Very unhappy

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Dissatisfaction

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Pain

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

Natural laughter

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

False laughter

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

Sorrowful Prayer

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Flirtatiousness

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Surprise

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Astonishment

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

Fearful

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments

More photos of patients

Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Illustration for article titled Terrifying, Century-Old Photographs from Neuroscience Experiments
Advertisement

____

Top photo: Wikimedia Commons, others: Wellcome Library and Internet Archive.

Advertisement

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

ellen-rose
Ellen-Rose

I don't know about the other subjects, but the old guy (whom Duchenne called un viellard) was specifically chosen because he'd lost the sensation of pain in his face. That way, his own personal grimace didn't interfere with the specific grimace Duchenne was trying to create.