Journal of Neurology

, Volume 265, Issue 3, pp 731–732 | Cite as

Ugo Cerletti (1877–1963)

  • Stefano SandroneEmail author
  • Marco CambiaghiEmail author
Pioneers in Neurology

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was developed in the 1930s by the Italian neurologist Ugo Cerletti and is still adopted in severe depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia when standard treatments do not work. However, despite decades of modifications and increased safety and efficacy, ECT still encounters criticism.

Cerletti was born on September 26, 1877, in Conegliano, a town 60 km away from Venice. Son of Margherita Pizzala, member of a Lombard industrial family, and Giovanni Battista, prominent engineer and winemaker, Ugo was the second of three children. In 1886 the Cerlettis moved to Rome, where Ugo finished high school and decided to enrol in medical studies. However, after one year, the family came back to the North of Italy for two further years, and Ugo carried on his studies at the University of Turin. There, he started doing research at the Institute of Pathology, thus extending his seminal interest in neuroanatomy and pathology [1]. Returning to Rome, he met...



Many thanks to Elena Maria Ponzi for providing the historical articles.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The corresponding authors state that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

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