June 8, 1916–March 24, 1994
BY EDWARD G. JONES
WALLE NAUTA WAS ONE of the leading neuroanatomists of his generation and a key figure in neuroscience history as a consequence of his development of a revolutionary technique for tracing connections in the nervous system. It was a technique that dominated the field of neuroanatomy at a time when it was forming one of the seminal influences in the rise of neuroscience as an integrated discipline.
Nauta came from that once large but now almost vanished group of Dutchmen that for centuries had made its home in the East Indies. He was born on June 8, 1916, in Medan, Sumatra, a thriving commercial center on the Malacca Strait. His father, from Leiden, had gone there as a missionary of the Dutch Reformed Church but had soon turned to issues of public health, education, and better governance for the Indonesian people and it was into this milieu that Nauta was born. As was typical, he was sent to Holland for his later elementary schooling. The whole family returned to Holland in the late 1930s, thus escaping internment during the Japanese occupation of the East Indies during World War II. Reportedly, Nauta was never a par-