A brief history of the Symposium


From François Boller's history of the Symposium (Boller (1999): Neuropsychologia, 37:17-26)

Early History: Oliver Zangwill, in a tribute to Henry Hécaen, wrote that the idea of the meetings was first introduced by Hécaen at a party in his home during the meeting of the International Congress of Psychiatry in Paris in 1949. "After dinner, Henry outlined his proposal to found an international group to promote knowledge and understanding of brain functions and cognate issues on the borderline of neurology, psychology and psychiatry." (Zangwill, 1984, Neuropsychologia, 22:813-815)

The first meeting was held in September 1951 in Mondsee, Austria. The meeting was organized by Hans Hoff, Chair of the Neurology Department at the University of Vienna. Co-organizers were Hécaen (France), Klaus Conrad (Germany) and Zangwill (UK). Other participants were Eberhard Bay, Richard Jung and Franz Günther von Stockert (Germany), Otto Pötzl and Klaus Gloning (Austria), and Richard Oldfield, Moira Williams, Malcolm Piercy and John MacFie (UK).

As pointed out by Boller, the Symposium has always been a meeting of a relatively small group of individuals to hear about and discuss various topics relevant to the field. There are usually three topics presented over 5 days, with ample time set aside for discussion. For many years, the number of members was held at "not more than 40"; currently the Symposium counts 120 members and 24 Fellows from 6 geographic regions (about 60% from Europe, 30% from North America, and 10% from other non-European countries).