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First Electrical Stimulations of the Ear with Voltaic Pile (Letter by Professor Volta to Professor Brugnatelli, “Above the Application of Electricity to Deaf-Mutes from Birth”)


Department of Otolaryngology, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Rovigo, Italy


Padova University Research Center “I-APPROVE-International Auditory Processing Project in Venice” Santi Giovanni e Paolo Hospital, Venice, Italy

ENT Updates 2022; 12: 133-137
DOI: 10.5152/entupdates.2023.22238
Read: 988 Downloads: 393 Published: 01 December 2022

In the late 18th century, several European scientists started describing the clinical effects of different types of electrical stimulation and tried to find new treatments for medical conditions, but only in the very early years of the 19th century, first attempts to cure deafness began. The letter written between 2 famous Italian scientists in the second half of 1802, by Professor A. Volta to Professor L.V. Brugnatelli, “Above the application of electricity to deaf-mutes from birth,” is one of the most detailed examples of how the experiments were conducted applying the voltaic pile as a cure for deafness. In order to gain a better understanding of the context in which the scientists of the time experimented with “medical electricity” on the ear, some of the experiments conducted by European scientists will be described in this study, including those conducted by J.J.A. Sprenger, F.L. Augustin, C.H. Wolke, C.J.C. Grapengiesser, and E.A. Eschke.

Cite this article as: Girasoli L, Martini A. First electrical stimulations of the ear with voltaic pile (letter by professor volta to professor brugnatelli, “Above the application of electricity to deaf-mutes from birth”). ENT Updates. 2023;12(3):133-137.

EISSN 2149-6498