W. Storm Van Leeuwen (1912 - ). His significance for clinical neurophysiology

D.N.J. Donker
Utrecht, The Netherlands

After a short exposé of his youth, education and medical study the paper considers the scientific career of Storm van Leeuwen, which started in 1939 under the leadership of G. Rademaker (1887 -1957) who at that time was Professor of Physiology at the University of Leiden. Rademaker was interested in the registration of cerebral electrical phenomena. Storm van Leeuwen was instructed to study the electrical activity from the brain of a rabbit. A description will be given of the equipment with which the investigation had to be performed at that time and of the difficulties that Storm van Leeuwen encountered. From investigations performed in cats, in which he intended to record the electrical activity of the deep structures, especially of the red nucleus, he came to the conclusion that some relation existed between the activity of the red nucleus and the heartrhythm of the cat. This became the basis of his dissertation titled: Heartarrhythmia by experimental damaging of the metencephalon (1945). In 1947 Storm van Leeuwen went to England to learn more about electrophysiology of the the central nervous system in general. He worked in the physiological laboratory of Cambridge, headed by Lord Adrian (1889-1977), under direct supervision of B.H.C.Matthews. This led to his first paper in the leading international Journal of Physiology. At the same time he was introduced in electro-encephalography by Grey Walter who also made him acquainted with automatic frequency analysis of the electro-encephalogram(E.E.G.). Back in Leiden, Rademaker, who in the meantime had been appointed Professor of Neurology in this city and who had bought a four channel Offner EEG-apparatus, asked Storm van Leeuwen to start clinical electro-encephalography at the University hospital. By the end of 1948 Storm van Leeuwen was the first in the Netherlands to perform professional clinical EEG's. The recordings were made on the attic of the Department of Neurology of the Leiden University hospital. Very early he used an automatic frequency analysis. In 1957 Storm van Leeuwen was appointed reader in clinical electro-encephalography in the city of Leiden. Two years later he accepted an invitation to come to Utrecht,where he obtained the position of clinical neurophysiologist in the Neurological University clinic, as well as the leadership of the then starting department on brain research in the new-built research Institute of Medical Physics T.N.O. In collaboration with A. Kamp he developed techniques for the investigation of relationships between behaviour of dogs and electrical phenomena in their brains. The fact that Storm van Leeuwen at the same time occupied the above mentionened position at the Neurological University clinic, gave him the possibility to do research on the electrical activity of the human brain as well. The most important techniques and their applications will be discussed. That Storm van Leeuwen was not only a laboratory man, or less even, an armchair scholar, becomes apparent when taking in consideration the large number of functions he fullfilled in national and international organisations. In 1977 he was elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Netherlands.


Poster Session II
Friday, 20 June 1997, 16.10 - 16.40

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands