Richard Caton (1842-1926): pioneer electrophysiologist and cardiologist

J Med Biogr. 2006 Feb;14(1):30-5. doi: 10.1258/j.jmb.2006.04-22.


Richard Caton is recognized as the discoverer of the waves of electrical potential which today form the basis of electroencephalography. He reported his finding in three communications, two in the British Medical Journal and one to the Ninth International Congress of Medicine at Washington, DC. After defending his priority in having made this discovery, he did no further work on the brain: his family and colleagues were unaware of his discovery for many years after his death. This was possible partly because of many other things that he did in his long life but also because, in his later years, he took deliberate steps to hide the fact that he had worked on the brain. The most important of these other activities was a practical study of the treatment of rheumatic heart disease. The basis of his treatment--complete rest in bed--is still in use today.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Cardiology / history*
  • Electroencephalography / history*
  • Electrophysiology / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / history
  • United Kingdom

Personal name as subject

  • Richard Caton