Early origins of clinical neuropsychological research and teaching at the University of Melbourne


Room 1123
Redmond Barry Building

The launch of the graduate training program in clinical neuropsychology in the late 1970’s in the then Psychology Department at the University of Melbourne was greeted with fanfare and seen as an important contribution to the international initiative in advancing professional Psychology.  Less well known is the long history of what we would now term neuropsychological research at the University, dating from the second decade of the 20th century.  Also, little known is the role of diverse staff at the University in the development of the professional program in clinical neuropsychology. In this talk some of the early neuropsychological research at the University will be described. This research was centred on collaborations between staff at the then Melbourne Teachers College and the University Department of Anatomy.  Findings arising from this research had a lasting impact on the assessment of cognitive abilities, internationally, and contributed to some important developments in our understanding of mental health conditions.  However this research was also associated with contemporary controversy.  In the second half of this talk, the academic initiatives that led to the development of the professional training program in clinical neuropsychology during the 1970’s will be described and the role of many staff across the University, noted. Again, the role of staff in the Department of Anatomy, but also the University Counselling Service, was critical to this initiative.  These developments drew on experience of staff in other Australian Universities as well as many international links.  This account is based on University archives and the personal recollections of staff involved at the time. The intention of this historical review is, in part, to pay tribute to the many staff involved in proposing and developing the professional program in clinical neuropsychology.

Speaker bio

Stephen C. Bowden, PhD, FAPS is a member of the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne and Honorary Consultant Neuropsychologist in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.  His research interests include modelling cognition for neuropsychological assessment, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, seizure disorders, and evidence-based neuropsychological practice.  He is a member of the Editorial Board of Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Psychoeducational Assessment, and The Clinical Neuropsychologist and with David Loring at Emory, is co-Editor-in-Chief of Neuropsychology Review.