My watch list  

Charles Scott Sherrington

  Sir Charles Scott Sherrington OM GBE, (27 November 1857 – 4 March 1952) was a British scientist known for his contributions to physiology and neuroscience. He shared the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Edgar Douglas Adrian for "for their discoveries regarding the functions of neurons".



Sherrington used reflexes in the spinal cord as a way of investigating the general properties of neurons and the nervous system. These experiments led him to postulate "Sherrington's law of reciprocal innervation," which states that for every neural activation of a muscle, there is a corresponding inhibition of the opposing muscle. Sherrington is also known for his study of the synapse, a word which he coined for the then-theoretical connecting point of neurons. One of Sherrington's students, John Carew Eccles later won the Nobel Prize in 1963 for his work on the synapse. Other neuroscience research done by Sherrington investigated proprioception and the neural control of posture.

In addition to the nervous system, Sherrington studied a number of pressing medical issues of his time. In 1885 he went to Spain to investigate an outbreak of cholera. Sources differ as to whether Sherrington met Santiago Ramon y Cajal at this time. Although the official Nobel Prize biography of Sherrington mentions this meeting, Sherrington himself denied it in his eulogy of Cajal. Sherrington claimed the only meeting between them occurred when Cajal visited England, at Sherrington's invitation, to deliver the 1894 Croonian Lecture. Sherrington learned techniques in bacteriology and histology from Robert Koch while studying an outbreak of cholera in Berlin.


  Sherrington was born in London, England. He attended Ipswich School where a house is now named in his honor. He studied physiology under Sir Michael Foster at Cambridge University. In 1887 Sherrington joined the faculty of St Thomas's medical school at King's College London. In 1895, he became a professor at the University of Liverpool. He took over the Waynflete Professorship in Physiology at Oxford University in 1913. He served as president of the Royal Society from 1920 to 1925. Sherrington received the Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire in 1922 and the Order of Merit in 1924. Sherrington retired from Oxford in 1935, but continued to lecture and write. He died in Eastbourne, Sussex.

Sherrington Crater was named after him by the International Astronomical Union. As is one of The University of Liverpool's buildings which houses Medical Teaching lecture theatres, Undergraduate Pharmacology and Physiology laboratory's as well as a Human Anatomy research centre (HARC).


  • The Integrative Action of the Nervous System New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906.
  • Mammalian physiology. Oxford and London, 1919.
  • The Reflex Activity of the Spinal Cord Oxford, 1932.
  • The Brain and Its Mechanism. Cambridge, 1933
  • Man on His Nature The 1937–38 Gifford lectures, Edinburgh: New York: MacMillan, 1940. Cambridge University Press, 2nd rev. edition 1951, hardcover: ISBN 0-521-06436-8, paperback: ISBN 0-521-09203-5
  • Selected Writings of Sir Charles Sherrington: A Testimonial Presented by the Neurologists Forming the Guarantors of the Journal "Brain" Hoeber, 1940. Oxford University Press, 1979: ISBN 0-19-920104-8
  • Goethe on Nature & on Science, 1949.
  • Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1965.
  • Ragnar Granit, Charles Scott Sherrington: An Appraisal, Nelson, 1966.


  • Sir Charles Sherrington Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1965. Accessed March 3, 2007.
  • Kusurkar RA. Sir Charles Sherrington (1857 - 1952). Journal of Postgraduate Medicine 2004; 50:238-239. Accessed March 3, 2007.

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir J. J. Thomson
President of the Royal Society
Succeeded by
The Lord Rutherford of Nelson
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Charles_Scott_Sherrington". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE