Frederic Gibbs and His Contributions to Epilepsy Surgery and Electroencephalography

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Abstract

Frederic Gibbs' (1903-1992) long research career was devoted to the understanding and treatment of epileptic phenomena and closely associated with the development of electroencephalography (EEG). After medical school, he joined the Harvard Neurological Unit at Boston City Hospital directed by Stanley Cobb. In the early 1930s, Gibbs developed a thermoelectric blood flow probe and, with William Lennox, proved in animals and humans that a seizure increases cerebral blood flow. By 1934, Gibbs became a pioneer in the field of EEG while working at Harvard with Hallowell Davis and Lennox, and was the first to convincingly record and report EEG findings in epilepsy and states of altered consciousness. Several years later, Gibbs and Lennox were the first to recommend cerebral excisions in several patients with uncontrolled epilepsy based on EEG. Moving to the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1944, Gibbs founded a consultation clinic for epilepsy, performed the first EEG depth recordings using pneumoencephalography-guided stereotaxy, and noted that sleep EEGs in patients with psychomotor seizures frequently disclosed temporal epileptic patterns. Gibbs convinced Percival Bailey to collaborate on patients with refractory temporal lobe psychomotor seizures without tumors. In 1947, the first nonlesional temporal lobe excisions based on EEG localization were performed in these patients, and, by 1948, anterior temporal lobectomy had become their procedure of choice. Gibbs and Lennox received the coveted Lasker Award among other honors as pioneers in establishing the modern era of epilepsy diagnosis and treatment.

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