Untold Stories: the Women Pioneers of Neuroscience in Europe

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Untold Stories: the Women Pioneers of Neuroscience in Europe

These are women who worked in Europe during the first half of twentieth century and made relevant contributions to the many fields of the modern neuroscience.

They greatly contributed to their fields of research. Their discoveries are still relevant for neuroscience nowadays, or they represented an important early-stage development in the evolution of the scientific knowledge. 

Here, we introduce the work of each scientist, presenting the results of selected studies and reporting excerpts from their original publications. We imagined traveling in time and space and arriving at their workplace that we briefly describe in the incipit of each profile. Then, we provide an overview of work and achievements of the scientist and we conclude with some biographical note. 

We hope that this will help the scientific community and the general public to get introduced to very relevant female scientists from the past, quite often overshadowed by their male counterparts.

The initial phase of this project was awarded in 2016 by the FENS History Committee and included 7 pioneers, so far we virtually travelled in St.Petersburg, Paris, London, Berlin, Liepzig and Padova.

The site was online for the first time on December 18, 2017.

After the online release in December 2017, we decided to continue this journey through history by adding more women scientists.  

But the journey can  continue… (see our mission)

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WiNEu: European women in Neuroscience

The pioneers

The woman has been locked for centuries. When you have access to culture, it is like a starving person. And the food is much more useful for the hungry than those already saturated.

Rita Levi Montalcini

She discovered that the prolonged sleep deprivation rapidly leads to death, and demonstrated that sleep is more important than food for the preservation of life…

She described for the first time the radicular paralysis of the lower brachial plexus, named after her Klumpke’s palsy, established standardized protocols for the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injury, and…

She became the first female psychiatrist in France. She tried to reform the Asylum, prohibiting punishments and restraints. She conducted a series of clinical studies on dementia praecox…

She established one of the first experimental laboratories and contributed to the calibration of the Wheatstone–Hipp chronoscope, increasing the precision in mental chronometry…

She conducted systematic clinical-anatomical research and published important studies on the myeloarchitectonic organization of the thalamus, on the pathology of the corpus striatum and…

 She conducted remarkable research on imagery, visual perception, and advertising psychology. She published one of the earliest studies on imagery…

She carried out an extensive study on psychology of testimony and used magnitude estimation, with the corresponding psychophysical function, to measure visual dot density…

She made important contributions to the early history of the blood-brain barrier and was the first scientist to introduce the term “barrier” to the exchange mechanism in brain…

They were the only two women to develop their scientific potential in the School while Cajal was still fully active…

She described a hereditary and congenital complex of malformations that causes motor and intellectual disabilities: the Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS)…


to be continued...

Be a Part Of

Our Mission

We have the ambition  to continue our journey and meet other scientists: each reader is very welcome to help with suggestions, contribution of original material… 

This same project would not have been possible without the contribution of many people that helped to recover the original documents and to realize the multimedia document presented here.

If you have original material about our pioneers, share it with us!

Original documents

If you've decided to organise a conference about one of our pioneers, contact us!


Propose a new pioneer to add to our site, contact us!


Other scientist

If you have related papers about our pioneers, share them with us!

Related papers

If you have pictures about our pioneers, share them with us!


Share your idea: if it is inline with our mission, we will implement it together. Contact us!

Any idea

You may contribute to the website in different ways, for example:

  • sending us further information or material about the scientists presented here
  • proposing other pioneering women in neuroscience that we could include in this project


This is a journey in time and space: it takes place in the second half of the 19th century, to St. Petersburg, Paris, London, Berlin, Liepzig and Padua.

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