ISN is a scholarly society devoted to neuroethology: the study of how nervous systems generate natural behavior in animals.
Neuroethology is a relatively young science. Early brain anatomists like Ramon y Cajal and Camillo Golgi revealed the intricate structure of brains and neurons, but it wasn't until the mid-20th century that researchers began to understand how neurons actually worked. Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley (studying the giant axon of squid) worked out how neurons generated action potentials, researchers' ability to record from active neurons increased dramatically. Nevertheless, being able to record neural activity from an actively behaving animal remains a major challenge in many cases.
Neuroethology arguably became a distinct research field, as opposed to a few talented but somewhat isolated scientists, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This success was driven by steady technical advances in recording from, and identifying, individual neurons. The International Society for Neuroethology formed in Kassel, Germany in 1981.