Otto Loewi's Great Dreams

Renate G Justin, MD

Summer 2006 - Volume 10 Number 2

We regularly slept on our homework as youngsters, never doubting the old wives' tale that we would absorb knowledge, even through a pillow. We would go to bed unprepared, expecting to awaken the next morning fully prepared for our exam. Was there a grain of truth in this childish belief? Does the brain continue its work while we are asleep? My great-uncle (Onkel), Otto Loewi, MD, would have answered "yes," as his wrinkled face lit up, his body returning to the straight, youthful posture of former times. As he talked, his words accelerated and his voice became louder, losing the huskiness of old age. Then, he once again would tell me about his dream, with the same words he used when he recorded it in his autobiography.


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