2014 Neuroscience Citation

The Kavli Prize - Neuroscience

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awards the
2014 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience to:

Brenda Milner

Brenda Milner

Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Canada

John O’Keefe

John O’Keefe

University College London, UK

Marcus E. Raichle

Marcus E. Raichle

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, US

“for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition."
 
 

THE 2014 KAVLI PRIZE IN NEUROSCIENCE is awarded to Brenda Milner, John O’Keefe, and Marcus E. Raichle “for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition.”

The higher cognitive functions of our brains such as attention, memory, and planning are essential to our ability to create rich mental lives.  The three Kavli laureates discovered that these functions are produced by specialized brain systems, which they analyzed at different levels – from single neurons to brain regions and interconnected networks.

Brenda Milner discovered regions of the brain specialized for memory formation and other cognitive functions.  She found that HM, a neurological patient with damage to the hippocampus and surrounding regions, could not acquire new memories of events, but could speak, reason and recall long-past memories.  By studying this patient and others, she discovered that the medial temporal lobes are needed to form one kind of memory, which we now call episodic memory, and not for other kinds of memory like procedural memory.  She made similar discoveries of specialized functions within the frontal lobes for planning and organizing behavioural sequences.

John O’Keefe discovered that the hippocampus contains neurons that encode an animal’s specific location. These place cells allow detection of novelty and changes in familiar environments and collectively form a cognitive map critical for animal navigation behaviour.

This discovery provides a sterling example of neuronal signalling in a specific brain region involved in memory formation.

Marcus E. Raichle designed methods for visualizing the activity of the normal living human brain. These techniques permitted the quantitative measurements of blood flow and metabolism in localized regions of the brain and provided the basis for all modern functional imaging studies. They allowed mental operations such as reading, attention and memory to be associated with activity in specialized networks of brain regions, present in all human brains. Raichle’s observation of systematic patterns of ongoing brain activity when the subject is in a resting state has transformed the way the human brain is now being studied in health and disease.