George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience

The George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience was established in 1995 by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society to honor the innovative scholarship of George A. Miller, whose many theoretical advances have greatly influenced the discipline of cognitive neuroscience. The first ten years of the prize were funded by generous support from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Each year the Prize shall recognize an individual whose distinguished research is at the cutting-edge of their discipline with realized or future potential, to revolutionize cognitive neuroscience. Extraordinary innovation and high impact on international scientific thinking should be a hallmark of the recipient’s work.

An annual call for nominations for the George A. Miller Prize will be made to the membership of the society. The recipient of the prize will attend the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and deliver the George A. Miller lecture.


Previous Winners of the George A. Miller Lectureship

2018 Elizabeth Spelke, Harvard University
2017 Dr. David Van Essen, Alumni Endowed Processor, Washington University in St Louis
2016 Brian Wandell, Isaac and Madeline Stein Family Professor
2015 Patricia Kuhl, Ph.D., University of Washington
2014 Jon Kaas, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
2013 Fred Gage, Ph.D., The Salk Institute
2012 Eve Marder, Ph.D., Brandeis University
2011 Mortimer Mishkin, Ph.D., NIMH
2010 Steven Pinker, Ph.D., Harvard University
2009 Marcus Raichle, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine
2008 Anne Treisman, Ph.D., Princeton University
2007 Joaquin M. Fuster, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
2006 Steven A. Hillyard, Ph.D., University of California San Diego
2005 Leslie Ungerleider, Ph.D., National Institute of Mental Health
2004 Michael Posner, Ph.D., University of Oregon
2003 Michael Gazzaniga, Ph.D., Dartmouth College
2002 Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., Princeton University
2001 William Newsome, Ph.D., Stanford University
2000 Patricia Churchland, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
1999 Giacommo Rizzolatti, Ph.D., University of Parma, Italy
1998 Susan Carey, Ph.D., New York University
1997 Roger Shepard, Ph.D., Stanford University
1996 David Premack, Ph.D., CNRS, France
1995 David H. Hubel, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Congratulations to Elizabeth Spelke, our 2018 George A. Miller Awardee. Elizabeth Spelke will receive her award and give her lecture on *Sunday, March 25, 2018, 5:00-6:00PM in the Grand Ballroom of the Boston Sheraton Hotel.


"Objects, Agents, and Persons: From Core Cognition to New Systems of Knowledge"

Speaker: Elizabeth Spelke, Harvard University

Young children rapidly develop a basic, commonsense understanding of how the world works. Research on infants suggests that this understanding rests in part on ancient systems, shared by other animals, for representing bodies and their motions, agents and their intended actions, social beings and their experienced states of engagement, places and their distances and directions, geometric forms, and approximate number. These core cognitive systems are innate, abstract, sharply limited, and opaque to intuition: in young infants, they operate automatically and largely independently of one another. Infants’ knowledge grows, however, not only through learning capacities that enrich these systems and are common to all animals, but through a fast and flexible learning process that generates new systems of concepts and likely is unique to our species. The latter process composes new, explicit concepts by combining productively the concepts from distinct core knowledge systems. The compositional process is poorly understood but amenable to study, through coordinated interdisciplinary research. To illustrate, this talk will focus on infants' knowledge of objects, agents, and social beings, and on two new systems of concepts that emerge quite suddenly at the end of the first year: concepts of objects as kinds whose forms afford specific functions for action, and concepts of people as social agents whose mental states are shareable experiences of the things they act upon.

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