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Cannon, Walter

( Prominent American scholar)

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Biography Cannon, Walter
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'The wisdom of the body' - the title of one of the books of the outstanding American scientist Walter Cannon (1871-1945), . discover the laws of the physiological mechanisms, . who stand guard over the interests of the organism, . protect it from the destructive forces of volatile external environment,

Walter Cannon was born in a small American town of Prairie-du-Shin, where his father was a railroad employee, and his mother - a teacher. The boy got labor education. He never bought a ready-made toys: he had to design and produce their own hands. Later, he remembered it with gratitude. After the 'good hands' so necessary to the experimenter.

In science Cannon entered while still a sophomore at Harvard University. Having shown a keen instinct for novelty and inventiveness, he used to address the physiological aspects rays, discovered by German physicist in. Roentgen. First, he shone by those rays of the digestive tract of geese and dogs, which gave swallow pearlies. Then, . taking into account the message of Roentgen, . that opaque for the new rays are the salts of heavy metals, . Cannon mixed with food harmless salt of bismuth and the first in the world saw the movement of food in esophagus and peristaltic (worm-like rhythm) reduce stomach walls of the experimental animal,
. In June, 1897. Cannon appeared the first publication on this subject, opened the era of X-rays for the study of the digestive system in physiology and medicine.

Studying digestion, Cannon noted that the motion of the stomach may be disrupted and even halted by fear, anger and other negative emotions. He began to search for neural mechanisms of these phenomena and discovered that the activity of the stomach is delayed due to stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, cell bodies of neurons which are located in the spinal cord. Cannon Further investigation reveals a strong link between the nervous and hormone regulation - chemical substances produced in the body. Cannon found that a special role is played by adrenaline - a hormone secreted adrenal. He called adrenaline 'fight and flight hormone' because its amount in the blood increases dramatically when an animal or person comes into the fight with the enemy or fleeing from his flight.

In his book, 'Changes in the body in pain, hunger, fear and rage' (1927) Cannon opened the bodily basis of emotional processes, which for centuries was considered the property of the idealists of the soul. He showed the biological significance of physiological changes in the manifestation of different emotions. For example, increased secretion of adrenalin in anger or fear (fight or flight), acting on the liver, leading to increased blood sugar. This organism is able to develop significantly more muscular energy than usual, and thus increase their chances of survival in difficult circumstances. This is one manifestation of 'the wisdom of the body'.

Summarizing her findings, Cannon developed a doctrine of homeostasis as a relatively constant internal environment and some bodily functions. When wound, for example, to protect the body raises blood coagulation system, which prevents blood loss. With strong heat of the body guard against overheating other regulators, causing vasodilatation, evaporation from the skin surface and t. d. This doctrine Cannon has stimulated research in many sciences - biology, psychology, cybernetics, etc..

Cannon was not only a remarkable scientist, creator of a large scientific school, but also an outstanding public figure. He was an active opponent of fascism. When civil war broke out in Spain, he became chairman of the American Committee for Protection of Spanish democracy. In those same years, visiting China, be a victim of Japanese aggression, he headed the Committee providing medical aid to China.

Personal friendship for many years Cannon tied with the great Russian physiologist and. P. Pavlov, who twice visited the Cannon in the U.S.. In turn, Cannon was the guest and. P. Pavlova at the XV International Physiological Congress in Moscow and Leningrad. Long journey to our country, . organized by the Soviet government for Cannon, . subsequently elected an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences, . allowed American scientist acquainted with the life of the Soviet people, . which he has always sympathized,
. During the Second World War, Cannon became the head of the Soviet-American Medical Society, whose work contributed to strengthening friendship between our two great nations.

Walter Cannon was such a scientist who believed devotion to science inseparable from the service of social progress.

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