The Soups and the Sparks controversy is the dispute between the pharmacologists, who had uncovered the first evidence that nerves communicate by releasing chemicals (neurotransmitters), and the neurophysiologists, experts on the nervous system, who dismissed the evidence and remained committed to electrical explanations.

One of the most important experiments in neurophysiology in the twentieth century took place in the physiology laboratories at the University of Otago, New Zealand, in August 1951. The group of researchers led by John Eccles convincingly established that synaptic transmission in the central nervous system was a chemical process. This work was the culmination of a long debate between advocates of electrical and chemical transmission. The conclusions overturned Eccles’s previous theories of an electrical “Golgi-cell” mechanism and represent a pivotal moment in the history of neuroscience.