Eliot Stellar

(1919 - 1993)


Compiled by Joshua Good (May 1999)

Stellar Biography
Theory
Time Line
Bibliography


Eliot Stellar researched extensively on the advanced behavioral, physiological, and chemical interactions in human and animal ingestive behaviors. He was also instrumental in the development of physiological psychology. He was born on November 1st, 1919 in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Boston Latin School and then Harvard College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1941. He enter Brown University and received his master's degree. Eliot served in the military during World War II as a psychologist. After the war, he earned his PhD from Brown.

Eliot began his teching career at John Hopkins University as an instructor of psychology. His career in motivation and the regulation of food intake was started here. Eliot coauthored the text book Physiological Psychology with Clifford Morgan in 1950 which was a major influence in the field for over two decades. In 1954 his famous article "The Physiology of Motivation" was printed in Physiological Review. Also in 1954, Eliot helped develop the Stellar-Krauss instrument which produced accurate lesions in the hypothalamus of rats. Later that year he joined the University of Pennsylvania as associate professor in the Department of Anatomy at the medical school. He worked with others to organize the Institute of Neurological Sciences. His efforts in the 1950's helped to make this decade known as the "age of the hypothalamus" in physiological psychology. In 1960, he became professor of Physiological Psychology in Anatomy in the Department of Anatomy and in the Institute of Neurological Sciences. He coauthored the classic book Animal Behavior in 1961. It has been translated into ten different languages.

Eliot became the director of the institute in 1965 and held the position until 1973. He was elected president of the Eastern Physiological Association in 196. He co-chaired the University of Pennsylvania's Developmental Commission in 1972. His focus on this commission was the undergraduate education. Recruitment of women and minorities increased in both student and faculty areas and a new College of Arts and Sciences was created to help fulfil his concept of "one university". In 1978, Eliot returned to research on the regulation of food intake in animals along with many other projects. He was appointed university professor in the Department of Anatomy and of the Institute of Neurological Sciences at Pennsylvania in 1979. Eliot served on the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. In 1978 the commission published the landmark document The Belmont Report: Ethical Principals and Guidelines for the protection of Human Subjects of Research. He became chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Human Rights in 1984. He served as president of the American Philosophical Society from 1987 until 1993. He was awarded the American Psychological Foundation's Gold Medal for Life Achievement in Psychological Science in 1993 but was not well enough the attend the ceremony. Eliot Stellar died of lung cancer on October 12th, 1993.


Theory
Eliot Stellar's research on sophisticated behavioral, physiological, and chemical interactions underlying human and animal ingestive behaviors is well known and studied in the field. Eliot's article from 1954, "The Physiology of Motivation", was one of eight articles selected by the Psychological Review for the centennial issue as one of the most influential articles of the twentieth century. The article identified the hypothalamus as the center of motivated behavior. A brief description of his theory is that the amount of motivated behavior is a direct function of the amount of activity in certain excitatory centers of the hypothalamus. The activity of these excitatory centers, in turn, is determined by a large number of factors which can be grouped in four general classes. These classes are inhibitory hypothalamic centers, sensory stimuli, the internal environment, and cortical and thalamic centers. Inhibitory hypothalamic centers act only to depress the activity of the excitatory centers. Sensory stimuli control hypothalamic activity through the afferent impulses they can set up. The internal environment can influence the hypothalamus through its vascular supply and the cerebrospinal fluid, and the cortical and thalamic centers can exert excitatory and inhibitory influences on the hypothalamus. Also in 1954, Eliot helped to develop the Stellar-Krauss instrument, a stereotaxic instrument that produced accurate lesions in the hypothalamus of rats. Lesions could now be made in several parts of the central nervous system with predictability and with much more ease than with earlier techniques. This enhanced the replication of behavioral experiments and their scientific reliability. Moreover, it reduced the amount of animals needed to show statistical significant results. Eliot also worked on rodents to demonstrate ventromedial and lateral hypothalamic syndromes in feeding behavior.

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Time Line
1919 Born on November 1st in Boston Mass.
1941 Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College
1942 Received Master's degree from Brown University
1942 Entered military as a psychologist during World War II (1942-1946)
1947 Awarded PhD from Brown University
1950 Coauthored with Clifford Morgan Physiological Psychology
1954 Article "The Physiology of Motivation" appeared in Psychological Review
1954 Helped develop the Stellar-Krauss instrument to lesion the hypothalamus of rats
1954 Joined the University of Pennsylvania in the Dept. Of Anatomy at the medical school
1960 Became professor of Physiological Psychology in Anatomy in the Institute of Neurological Sciences
1961 Published Animal Behavior with Vincent Dethier
1965 Became the director of the Institute of Neurological Sciences
1965 Elected president of the EPA
1968 Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
1972 Co-chaired the University of Pennsylvania's Developmental Commission
1974 Published "Brain Mechanisms in Hunger and Other Hedonic Experiences"
1978 Returned to research after helping form his "one university" vision at the University of Pennsylvania
1979 Appointed university professor in the Dept. Of Anatomy and Institute of Neurological Sciences at Pennsylvania
1983 Served on the APA's Board of Scientific Affairs
1984 Became the chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Human Rights
1987 Elected president of the American Philosophical Society
1989 Received the Medallion of the National Academy of Sciences
1993 Awarded the American Psychological Foundation's Gold Medal for Life
Achievement in Psychological Science
1993 Died of lung cancer on October 12th at the age of 73

Bibliography
Sechzer, Jeri Altneu, (1995). Eliot Stellar. American Psychologist, p.387-388.
Stellar, Eliot.(1954). The Physiology of Motivation. Psychological Review, p.5-11.



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