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Biographical Memoirs: VOLUME 75
August 31, 1896–August 22, 1992
BY ROBERT GALAMBOS
WHEN HALLOWELL DAVIS began his experiments on the nervous system in 1922, the number of American neurophysiologists he might talk to—the neuroscientists of that day—could be counted almost literally on the fingers of one hand. When he died seventy years later there were more than 15,000 members of the Society for Neuroscience (U. S. A.), and he was universally recognized as the world's leading authority on the ear and hearing. He owed this position in part to an uncanny knack for selecting exactly the right moment to begin working on a problem, and because throughout his life he was simultaneously performing a new experiment and writing up a finished one. These activities, plus his interactions with a small army of friends, students, and associates here and abroad took him to the top of his profession and kept him there.
The first brainwaves seen on the American continent came out of his own head in 1933, recorded by his graduate students using equipment he had designed. At about the same time he was among the first anywhere to record animal cochlear potentials, human evoked brain potentials, and the activity of single nerve cells at work inside an animal brain. And because he believed scientists should develop