Klüver, Heinrich, 1897-1979

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Neuro psychologist. Born 1897 in Holstein, Germany. Studied at University of Hamburg and University of Berlin. Came to U.S. in 1923. Obtained his Ph. D. in physiological psychology from Stanford University in 1924. Taught at University of Minnesota (1924-1926), Columbia University (1926-1928), University of Chicago (1933-1963).

From the description of Papers, 1912-1978. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 43268095

Heinrich Klüver was born May 25, 1897 in Holstein, Germany. After serving in the Germany army during World War I, between 1920 and 1923 he studied at both the University of Hamburg and the University of Berlin. In 1923 he came to the United States to attend Stanford University where he is credited with having introduced German Gestalt psychology to North America. He obtained his Ph.D. in physiological psychology from Stanford the following year. In 1927 he married Cessa Feyerabend and settled in the United States permanently, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1934.

Klüver’s first teaching position was as instructor in psychology at the University of Minnesota (1924-1926). There he met and became a close friend and research associate of renowned neuropsychologist Karl Spencer Lashley. After working at Columbia University as a fellow of the Social Science Research Council (1926-1928), Klüver accompanied Lashley in a transition to Chicago. First as a research psychologist for the Behavior Research Fund (1928-1933), and then as a member of the Sprague Memorial Institute at the University of Chicago in 1933. In 1936 he became associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and was promoted to full professor of experimental psychology in 1938. When Klüver retired from teaching in 1963, he held the title of Sewell Avery distinguished professor of biological psychology. As professor emeritus he continued to pursue laboratory research on the University of Chicago campus until a year before his death on February 8, 1979.

Klüver is widely regarded as a key contributor to the discovery of the physiological foundations of animal and human behavior. Largely as a result of Klüver’s experimental work with laboratory monkeys, not only the scientific community, but common knowledge recognizes the role of brain physiology and neurochemistry in both the production of normal behavior and the treatment of abnormal behavior. Klüver began his groundbreaking research by studying the effects of the psychotropic drug mescaline (also known as peyote) on monkeys and upon himself as well. He hoped to be able to determine precisely what portions of the brain the drug effects and why it produces particular hallucinatory perceptions. He theorized that there are pre-linguistic sense-specific levels and physiological loci within the nervous system that enable subjects to perceive the distinct properties of stimulus objects. He noticed that when he gave mescaline to monkeys they exhibited unusually frequent mouth manipulation. Klüver’s efforts to learn which part of the brain was responding to the drug by producing this behavior lead to the surgical removal of the temporal lobes of the brain. This procedure produced a further regular constellation of characteristics and behaviors: 1) docility 2) inability to recognize stimuli by sight 3) intensified orality 4) over-reaction and repeated reaction to visual stimuli 5) changes in eating habits 6) and increased sexual activity of all kinds.

In addition to his work on neurophysiology and behavior, Klüver was a pioneer in the use of monkeys in social scientific research. His long-term handling of monkeys as experimental subjects gained him a reputation as an expert on monkey care and behavior. He studied and published on the subject of the monkey life cycle, demonstrating that monkeys suffer from many of the same diseases afflicting humans, including diabetes, endometriosis, and various types of cancers. In the field of laboratory technology, he and his colleague Elizabeth Barrera developed the Klüver-Barrera stain, which renders neurons, glia, and myelin sheaths observable together at the same time.

Klüver was a member of innumerable professional and honorary societies such as the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physiological Society, the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, and the Society of Biological Psychiatry. He enjoyed immense respect, not only among social and behavioral scientists, but also among medical and biological scientists, as demonstrated by his receipt of several honorary medical degrees.

From the guide to the Klüver, Heinrich. Papers, 1912-1978, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Klüver, Heinrich. Papers, 1912-1978 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Klüver, Heinrich, 1897-1979. Papers, 1912-1978. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Miles, Walter R. (Walter Richard), 1885-1978. Walter R. Miles and Catharine Cox Miles papers, 1899-1965. University of Akron, Bierce Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Maier, Walter Arthur, 1893-1959. person
associatedWith Miles, Walter R. (Walter Richard), 1885-1978. person
associatedWith Schwenk, Harriet person
associatedWith Schwenk, Harriet. person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1897-05-25

Death 1979-02-08




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