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September 19, 2019

100 Years of JAMA Neurology and the Journey Back to the Beginning

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Editor, JAMA Neurology
JAMA Neurol. 2019;76(11):1279-1280. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3056

We would like to take a moment to recognize the 100th anniversary of JAMA Neurology, which was first launched by the American Medical Association in 1919 as the Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry. In the immediate aftermath of World War I, the table of contents of the first issue (Figure) reflected a medical community dealing with the realities of acute neurologic and psychiatric injuries, as well as lingering conditions, in those who returned from the battlefront. Articles advancing treatments of “so-called ‘shell shock’”1 and “war neuroses”2,3 sit comfortably next to a piece on the histogenesis of multiple sclerosis.4 In the issues that followed over the next few months, observations ranged from the neurological manifestations of and new therapies for syphilis5,6 to attempts to treat what was likely schizophrenia using injections of sodium chloride,7 as well as detailed descriptions of wartime spinal cord and peripheral nerve injuries.8,9 The first volume’s issues were groundbreaking and robust for the time, with great relevance to the practicing physician—certainly an impressive accomplishment for such a fledgling journal.

Figure.  Table of Contents of the First Volume of Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry (1919).
Table of Contents of the First Volume of Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry (1919).

In the Editorial announcement that accompanied the first volume, the editorial board reflected that “during the last twenty-five years, there have been great, at times startling, advances in neurology and psychiatry,”10(p113) and “it will be generally admitted that the mass of the medical profession is not so well informed on nervous diseases and mental disorders as on most other branches of medical science.”10(p113) The sentiment expressed in this first Editorial announcement is certainly still felt today. Our own last 25 years have witnessed an explosion in advances in the understanding and treatment of neurologic disorders, and it remains well recognized that the neurology field is poorly understood among many nonneurologic practitioners.

The journal evolved in the decades after its launch, becoming a leading publication in the field. In 1959, the journal split into its neurology and psychiatry forms, and Archives of Neurology flourished (including through its renaming as JAMA Neurology in 2013). This split into 2 journals 40 years after the publication’s inception reflected the notion that psychiatric and neurologic diseases were quite different, appealing to distinct groups of physicians with drastically different skill sets.

Now, a half century later, times have changed once again. The fields of neurology and psychiatry have moved perhaps closer than they have ever been. Advances in genetics, molecular biology, neuroimaging, and epidemiology have made most practicing neurologists and psychiatrists understand that the lines between the specialties are becoming as blurred as they were at the beginning of the 20th century. Both fields take aim at treating disorders of the brain, and at times the clinical distinction between many disorders termed psychiatric and those classified under the term neurologic can be difficult to understand, including those across the life span from childhood (eg, autism spectrum disorders) to older ages (eg, neurodegenerative disorders). Many academic institutions, including my own, have embraced a close relationship between departments of neurology and psychiatry, not just in the basic sciences, where advances in psychiatry have made neuroscience a term that encompasses both fields, but increasingly also in the clinical arena. Patients will often present with a so-called neuroscience disorder, and understanding whether the cause is, for example, an autoimmune encephalitis, epilepsy, or (an ostensibly primary) psychiatric or genetic disorder requires a deep knowledge and understanding of both fields.

Trainees in neurology and psychiatry residency programs increasingly seek out additional experiences in the other field that are more time-consuming and rigorous than the simple requirements for cross-training mandated for board certification. Here at JAMA Neurology, we have newly formed a partnership with our colleagues at JAMA Psychiatry to feature important articles from the other journal relevant to our field on the JAMA Neurology web page (and soon in our electronic Table of Contents). While we do not envision a day when the journals will once again merge, the JAMA Network allows us to assure that readers are getting the most relevant content to their area of interest, whether an author decided to submit their work to JAMA Neurology or JAMA Psychiatry. In a sense, we are slowly returning to where we began: journals that aim to be useful to practicing neurologists and psychiatrists. Never before have neurology and psychiatry so needed publications that recognize the rich partnership between the fields—one that was once a historical footnote but now appears to be an exciting future.

In today’s modern world of publishing, it is difficult for a journal to be successful for even 1 or 2 decades. The recognition that this journal has made it 100 years should be applauded and stands as a testament to the hard work and leadership of the thousands of editors, authors, and reviewers who have made it such a success over the past century. A journal’s ability to withstand the test of time is dependent in part on its ability to evolve, take risks, and stay relevant. For all of you who have been with us for part of this journey thus far, we thank you for your support and welcome suggestions as to how our journal can best serve you going forward.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: S. Andrew Josephson, MD, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Ave, PO Box 0114, San Francisco, CA 94143 (andrew.josephson@ucsf.edu).

Published Online: September 19, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3056

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Dercum  FX.  So-called ‘shell shock’: the remedy.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(1):65-76. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180010078005Google ScholarCrossref
Stewart  JP.  The treatment of war neuroses.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(1):14-24. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180010017002Google ScholarCrossref
Russel  CB.  War neuroses: some views on diagnosis and treatment.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(1):25-38. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180010028003Google ScholarCrossref
Klingman  T.  The histogenesis of multiple sclerosis.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(1):39. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180010042004Google ScholarCrossref
Fildes  P, Parnell  RJG, Maitland  HB.  Unsuspected involvement of the central nervous system in syphilis: a study of six hundred and twenty-four unselected cases.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(2):231-245. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180020098007Google ScholarCrossref
Sachs  B.  On the intravenous, not the intraspinal, use of arsphenamin in syphilis of the nervous system.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(3):277-284. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180030003001Google ScholarCrossref
Miller  WC.  Treatment of dementia praecox by intravenous injections of sodium chlorid, together with studies of the chlorin content of the blood.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(3):313-316. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180030041005Google ScholarCrossref
Schaller  WF.  Spinal cord injuries in warfare; symptomatology and diagnosis: a critical review.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(4):471-501. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180040090005Google ScholarCrossref
Price  GE, Feiss  HO, Terhune  WB.  Peripheral nerve injuries.  Arch Neur Psych.1919;1(5):547-559. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180050032003Google ScholarCrossref
Editorial Board of Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry.  Editorial announcement.  Arch Neur Psych. 1919;1(1):113-114. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1919.02180010126009Google ScholarCrossref
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