The Kavli Prizes were awarded for the first time in Oslo, Norway on September 9, 2008 to seven of the world's most prominent scientists in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. The astrophysics prize was awarded jointly to Maarten Schmidt, of the California Institute of Technology, USA, and Donald Lynden-Bell, of Cambridge University, UK; the nanoscience prize was awarded jointly to Louis E. Brus, of Columbia University, USA, and Sumio Iijima, of Meijo University, Japan; and the neuroscience prize was awarded jointly to Pasko Rakic, of the Yale University School of Medicine, USA, Thomas Jessell, of Columbia University, USA, and Sten Grillner, of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. The Kavli Prize is a joint venture of the Kavli Foundation, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Kavli Prize Inaugural Symposium on Neuroscience was held at the University of Oslo on 8 September, 2008, organized by L.H. Bergersen, E. Moser M.-B. Moser, and J. Storm-Mathisen. At this Symposium, seven leading neuroscientists described their groundbreaking work, which encompasses some of the most important recent advances in the field of neuroscience, from molecule to synapse to network to behavior. The Symposium was a fitting tribute to Fred Kavli's vision of neuroscience as an outstanding area of progress, and to the achievements of the winners of the first Kavli Prize in Neuroscience. The main points of the Symposium presentations are summarized below.