Angelo Mosso: a holistic approach to muscular fatigue

C. Di Giulio


Angelo Mosso (1846-1910) was an Italian physiologist who significantly contributed to the development of all fields of modern physiology. Mosso believed that “with the graphical method the palpitation of the heart, the breathlessness of the breath, the tremor of the muscles, the velocity of the blood, the word, the perception they leave of themselves are indelible traces”. Mosso’s main aim was to exactly measure man’s muscular work. In this way Mosso had constructed an instrument that could exactly measure the workman’s muscle mechanics. He called this instrument the ergograph which means work recorder. He was a fervent promoter of the pedagogic importance of physical exercise and training in the psychophysical development of adolescents. For Mosso fatigue and training represented the basis of sports, and in the speech delivered at the Olympic games in Roma in 1905 he declared: “In muscle resistance to fatigue lies most of the future richness of our Country”. Indeed, he wrote: “I believe that pedagogy, just like medicine, is an art and it serves to help nature”. Importantly, Mosso tried to join philosophical and psychological studies with biological studies. This holistic approach is now commonly adopted in cognitive neuroscience, and it is resurging in exercise physiology. This “maestro” is a shining example of a great scientist, and his legacy will continue across future generations.


History of Physiology • Mosso • Fatigue

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