In memory of Professor Richard Wise
It is with great sadness that I hear of the passing of Professor Richard Wise, a pioneer in the field of brain imaging and language. He belonged to the elite of those British neurologists that endeavoured scientific exploration from difficult clinical grounds. Despite devoting his career to neuroimaging he remained anchored to the tradition of behavioural neurology and in part consciously skeptical of the mesmerising power of the pictorial representations of the brain in action produced by PET and fMRI. This led him to make insightful and clinically meaningful descriptions of the neurobiology of language in a time where functional imaging became widely misused to produce ad hoc “evidence” to back up a well concocted story. In the 1990s, when the field became obsessed again with cortical localisationism, he was one of the dissenting voices that reminded us of the brain as a network construct (Wise et al., Brain 1991), an approach to which he remained faithful to the end (Geranmayeh et al., Brain 2017).
On a personal level he was very charismatic and personable. A few years ago, I received an offer to relocate to Imperial College and Richard Wise was one of the reasons for seriously considering the move. But I made the most comfortable decision of staying at King’s College London, conscious that the missed opportunity of working with him would be one of my most hurtful regrets. From the handful personal meetings with him, I cherish the memories of a challenging thinker with a witty smile. His papers need to be read again and preserved as hidden gems in a vastly dispensable imaging literature.