Obituary: Anneliese Pontius

February 02, 2018
Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Anneliese Pontius was recognised for her open-mindedness, her knowledge and her uniqueness. Together with her husband Dieter Pontius she has been described as a “nomad who is at home everywhere”. Much like her husband, she led a fulfilling life and was devoted to serving scientific research—something that she derived great pleasure from. The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences mourns Anneliese Pontius, who passed away in Freiburg on the 2nd January 2018 at the age of 96.

Anneliese Pontius was a pioneer in neuropsychiatry. Thanks to her, we have gained basic knowledge about one form of partial epilepsy, the so-called Limbic Psychotic Trigger Reaction, which is seen as a subtype of psychomotor attacks. Thereby, affected persons experience “behaviour attacks” which are often connected with psychosis. In this context the former Harvard professor also engaged herself for many years in the relationship between brain damage and crime, and focused in particular on a special type of epilepsy in which actions are carried out without planning and are free of emotions.

Our Institute owes a great deal to the married scientist couple Anneliese and Dieter Pontius for the Pontius Foundation, which was named after them. Benefactors’ projects in the fields of neuropsychiatry and neurophysics are supported by the foundation, which especially appreciates research involving creative ideas. Through its sponsored scholarship programme, but also due to the high-ranking research of the fellows, the name Pontius will live on in the future.

Anneliese Pontius was an extraordinary, lively, inquisitive and fascinating science personality. We will miss the exchange with her.

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