The Medical Historical Library announces that the Wilfrid Rall computational neuroscience research collection (Ms Coll 83) is now open for researchers. The collection is a gift of Gordon Shepherd, MD, DPhil, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neuroscience at Yale, and the family of Wilfrid Rall.
Rall (1922-2018) was a neuroscientist whose work focused on the electrical properties of neurons and the functions of neuronal dendrites. His development of cable theory and the compartmental modeling approach for studying dendrites and synaptic integration helped found the discipline of computational neuroscience. The collection documents his research from 1963-1971, particularly his collaborative work with Gordon Shepherd using the compartmental modeling method to study the functional organization of the olfactory bulb. Research notebooks, correspondence, and reprints of Rall’s publications are included in the archive.
Rall’s research notebooks are fully digitized and freely available online. The 11 notebooks, dating from 1963-1971, document his research on dendritic function. Shepherd writes, “Rall used to record the day’s computer runs, calculations and discussions, hypotheses, summaries of progress, and plans for the future. The volumes are a running record of his busy life as one of the first neuroscience biophysicists, and his conscientious efforts to keep up with the many projects and thoughts stimulated by his work. They provide unique insights into how Rall in his earliest work brought together several disciplines in creating the computational approach to analyzing the functional organization of neurons and neuronal microcircuits as the basis for the future field of computational neuroscience.” Shepherd created a website dedicated to Rall’s work, including in-depth descriptions of notebook content.