By the mid-eighteenth century the institute and the academy had long been involved in a sophisticated discussion about electricity. These concepts were further developed by Luigi Galvani (1737-1798). He conceived of animals, and by extension human beings, as having a unique electrical property, with the brain being the most important organ secreting “electric fluid” and the nerves being the organs with the greatest affinity with this unique electricity.
According to his theory, a substance inside the nerves specializes in conducting electricity whereas an outer substance prevents its dispersion. Muscles function as receptors of animal electricity, and, in this, the living organism resembles an electrical machine with its own energy capable of reacting, at the same time, to external stimuli. Motion is produced when the muscle fluid discharged from the interior to the exterior of the muscle through nerves provides electrical stimulation to irritable muscle fibers, which contract as a result.
Galvani’s ideas focusing on the study of electricity in relation to motion attracted the attention of the international community and paved the way for new fields such as electromagnetism and neurophysiology.