Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/297

This page has been validated.
285
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

culation which can pass the lungs. The respiratory type acquired by the gymnast consists in an enormous increase in the expansion of the chest and a notable retardation of the thoracic movements. M. Marey and Dr. Hillairet selected five recruits and registered the rate of respiration of each of them when at rest, and again after they had run a course of six hundred metres at the gymnastic pace. By following the changes of respiration of these gymnasts from month to month, a series of curves was obtained, and the following results were furnished: At first, respiration was very perceptibly modified by the running; but toward the end of the experiments, that is, after four or five months of the exercises, it was almost impossible to distinguish any change in the respiration of the men who had run; and this, notwithstanding their gait had became a little more rapid, and they ran over the six hundred metres in three minutes and fifty seconds. The figures show that the modification of the respiratory movements is permanent—that is, that it is maintained when the man is at rest. The number of respirations is reduced, in the mean, from twenty to about twelve in a minute, and their amplitude is more than quadrupled. We may conclude, then, that these soldiers, after having experienced the effects of gymnastic training, breathe about twice as much air as before they were subjected to the discipline.

 

Expectant Attention in Animals.—A remarkable instance of sagacity in animals is described in an article on "Mental Physiology" in a late number of the "Edinburgh Review," in the case of a dog that belonged to Professor Huggins. This dog, Kepler, had the faculty of answering correctly with his barkings arithmetical questions, including such problems as giving the square root of nine or sixteen, or the result of adding seven to eight, dividing the sum by three, and multiplying the quotient by two. No power of calculation was implied in this exercise, or operation of the understanding, however it may have seemed. The case was simply one of what is called by physiologists expectant attention. A clew to the process is given by the statement in the story that, until the solution was arrived at, Kepler never moved his eye from his master's face, but the instant the last bark was given he transferred his attention to the cake which was always held before him as a reward for a successful performance. Professor Huggins, the writer continues, was perfectly unconscious of suggesting the proper answer to the dog, but it is beyond all question that he did so. The wonderful fact is, that Kepler had acquired the habit of reading in his master's eye or countenance some indication that was not known to Professor Huggins himself. Professor Huggins was engaged in working out mentally the various stages of his arithmetical processes as he propounded the numbers to Kepler, and, being aware, therefore, of what the answer should be, expected the dog to cease barking when the number was reached; and that expectation suggested to his own brain the unconscious signal which was caught by the quick eye of the dog. In an analogous manner, a person swinging a button by a thread near the rim of a glass will unwittingly cause it to strike the hour, if he knows the hour, through the unconscious control of his brain over the movements of his finger.

 

Change as a Mental Restorative.—Dr. Joseph Mortimer-Granville, discussing in the "Lancet" the subject of "Change as a Mental Restorative," shows that great discrimination is needed in prescribing this remedy. Some patients there are, such as those who have become wearied with a purposeless life or one of idle dissipation, who have become worn out with change, and to whom a prescription of it for its own sake, without consideration of the circumstances, would only impose an additional infliction. They are most difficult cases to deal with, and demand especial study. The change which a person of this kind requires is "one that will stir a deeper spring of energy than has yet supplied him with motive-force, by compelling his recognition of the responsibilities of life. It is idle to hope that he can be roused to action by the discovery of a new pleasure. . . . The energies of such a character are more likely to be called out by pain and necessity than by pleasure and satisfaction." Some men of pleasure have been delivered from the extreme of ennui, which they had reached, by the loss of for-