Head was born of an old Quaker family in England. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he began his interest in physiology. He published on action potential of nerves and wrote a famous treatise on the respiratory effects of the vagus nerve. Interest in pain led him to studies on herpes zoster. He made studies on dermatomes. Together, with Gordon Holmes in 1911, they published a paper on sensory disturbances from cerebral lesions. Clinical facts that he and his associates made, are the basis for clinical investigations of sensation even today. He edited Brain for 15 years.

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