Wilder Penfield pioneered the early practice of brain surgery. In binding together the disciplines of neurosurgery, neurology, neuropathology, psychology, and related basic sciences, Penfield transformed our understanding of the field of neuroscience.
He brought to the operating room the meticulous techniques of Sherrington, combined with methods of stimulation described by Foerster, which he complemented with expert knowledge of the neurocytology of nervous tissue. While developing surgical treatments for epilepsy, Penfield began to map the brain. He established the “Montreal procedure” for the surgical treatment of epilepsy. His scientific contributions on neurostimulation were transformative in their time and continue to resonate today.
This article reviews the life of Wilder Penfield and summarizes key scientific contributions. Specifically, we detail the Montreal procedure.