Helmholtz Gemeinschaft


Some european neuroscientists: A personal tribute

Item Type:Book Section
Title:Some european neuroscientists: A personal tribute
Creators Name:Jung, R.
Abstract:1. Personal recollections of prominent neuroscientists whom the author met during the years 1930–1950 are given with special reference to neurophysiology. Some traits of Paul Hoffmann, Walter R. Hess, Hans Berger, Jan F. Toennies, Erich von Holst, and the philosopher Nicolai Hartmann are sketched. 2. In 1930–1932 Paul Hoffmann gave the first suggestions about neurophysiology to the young medical student. A visit to Vogt’s Brain Research Institute in Berlin in 1934 demonstrated the wide extent of the brain sciences and brought the first contact with Jan Toennies. There followed neuroanatomical work under H. Spatz in Munich and a short clinical intermezzo with K. Beringer in Freiburg. The award of a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1936 for work in London, Zürich, and Berlin provided an introduction to the actual mainstream of neurophysiology created by Adrian, Berger, Hess, Dale, and Eccles during the early 1930s. This resulted in the author’s choice of the electrophysiology of the brain as a research field. 3. The fact-oriented inductive British physiology and the function-oriented integrative physiology of W. R. Hess based upon systematic theories showed a way to combine experiment and theory in brain research. In addition Nicolai Hartmann’s philosophical concepts offered an ordered synthesis. 4. For neurophysiology in man Hoffmann’s reflex recordings, Berger’s and Adrian’s EEG findings, and Tönnies’s cooperation were important prerequisites in building up in 1938–1939 a neurophysiological laboratory in Freiburg to apply neurophysiological methods to human neurology. 5. The importance of combining multiple traditions in a new research field is stressed. Some general remarks are made on motivation and methods of research, and on qualitative versus quantitative proceedings. The value of pilot studies and of hypotheses as research guides is stressed. 6. Two failures of research are discussed: one due to lack of a new theory to integrate various facts, which were wrongly interpreted by conventional concepts ; the other caused by a too early quantification with neglect of broad-scale, qualitative pilot studies.
Title of Book:The Neurosciences: Paths of Discovery, I
Page Range:477-511
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-6817-5_27

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Open Access
MDC Library