Humphrey Ridley (1653-1708): forgotten neuroanatomist and neurophysiologist

Veith, P., Watanabe, K., Shoja, M.M., Blaak, C., Loukas, M., Tubbs, R.S., 2015. Humphrey Ridley (1653-1708): forgotten neuroanatomist and neurophysiologist. Clin Anat 28, 12–15. doi:10.1002/ca.22228


Humphrey Ridley is a little known character in the history of anatomy and physiology. Born in 1653, Ridley was a physician and anatomist who followed the research done by Willis, Vieussens, and Galen. Outside of a cursory knowledge of his birth and death, readers have only two remnants of his contributions to science: The Anatomy of the Brain, containing its Mechanism and Physiology and Observationes Quaedam Medico-Practicae et Physiologicae de Asthmate et Hydrophobia. The former text was the first book in the English language written on the human brain. Ridley's studies using cadavers executed by hanging provided him with a novel view of the venous drainage and lymphatic system not seen as accurately by those before him. Since the study of the brain was still largely in its infancy, he was not without his errors of deduction as to the purpose of parts of the brain and its pathologies. With his dissections, however, Ridley was able to build on the collective knowledge of neuroanatomy and provided new insight into brain structure and function. The current paper reviews what is known of Ridley's life and contributions to neuroanatomy and neurophysiology.

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