Authors: Zachary S. Hubbard, MD; Fraser Henderson Jr, MD; Jeffrey Wessell, DO; Alejandro Spiotta (Charleston, SC)
Introduction: Jose Delgado was born on a farm in Ronda, Spain in 1915. He attended Medical School in Madrid in 1933 and after a brief stent in the military as a medical corpsman, he began research on neurophysiology in the early 1940s.
Methods: He experimented with electrodes for brain implantation while working at the Ramon y Cajal Center in Madrid. Motivated by his curiosity to delineate the mysteries of the brain, he refined techniques developed by Swiss professor Hess who later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his works. Improving the electrodes pioneered by Hess, Delgado increased the number of electrodes from one to seven, which he would leave implanted for up to years at a time.
Results: As he dove deeper into research on primates, he began to feel short of instruments needed to conduct his experiments. Meanwhile, he discovered that there was intensive research on the brain being conducted in the United States. It was at this time that he was offered a scholarship to Yale University. Here, he published on human electrode implantation.
Conclusion: In the summer of 1964 an experiment was conducted that shocked the nation and demonstrated the power and capability of manipulation of the mind through implantation. Dr. Jose Manuel Rodriguez Delgado stood facing a bull in Cordoba, Spain. Armed with a red cape and a radio transmitter, Dr. Delgado provoked the bull to charge. The electrodes placed in the caudate nucleus of the bull’s brain the day before had worked exactly as Dr. Delgado had anticipated. Reports of the experiment could be found in countless newspapers across the world, including The New York Times who called the event “the most spectacular demonstration ever performed of the deliberate modification of animal behavior through external control of the brain.”