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Margaret Alice Kennard

Former YSM faculty

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Margaret Alice Kennard


Years active at Yale: 1931-1943

Dr. Kennard is being recognized for her significant role in the early years of developmental neuropsychology. With a recent MD from Cornell (1930) and a year of internship, Kennard first came to the Department of Physiology as an honorary research fellow in 1931-1932 and remained until 1943, but only reached the rank of assistant professor. She worked in the laboratory of John F. Fulton, MD, chair of the department, using primates as subjects both from the Fulton laboratory and from that of Gertrude Van Wagenen, PhD. Her experiments, complementing those of Fulton and his colleagues, were on behavioral responses to lesions in the cortex or sub-cortex of infant, juvenile, and adult primates. She examined which functions (such as limb movement, posture, grasping, and recall of learning) were hampered by lesions at different ages, and which functions were spared. She was especially interested in the neural mechanisms by which the brain partially compensated after lesions, and how her work could apply to brain- damaged pediatric patients. In 1942, Dr. Kennard passed the specialty boards in psychiatry and neurology and, after leaving Yale, held a succession of clinical positions. She served as president of the Society for Biological Psychiatry in 1956-1957. A conclusion she reached at Yale concerning brain plasticity in infants in particular cases was over-simplified in the 1970s to become widely known as the “Kennard Principle.”