The Fred Kavli Distinguished Career Contributions Award (DCC)

Congratulations to Marlene Behrmann, our 2020 Distinguished Career Contributions Awardee. Marlene Behrmann will receive her award and give her lecture on Sunday, May 3, 2020, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, in the Grand Ballroom.

Hemispheric Organization for Visual Recognition

Speaker: Marlene Behrmann, Thomas S. Baker University Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Despite the similarity in structure, the hemispheres of the human brain have somewhat different functions. A traditional view of hemispheric organization asserts that there are independent and largely lateralized domain-specific regions in ventral occipitotemporal (VOTC), specialized for the recognition of distinct classes of objects. In this talk, I will offer an alternative account of the organization of the hemispheres, with a specific focus on face and word recognition. This alternative account relies on three computational principles: distributed representations and knowledge, cooperation and competition between representations, and topography and proximity. The crux is that visual recognition results from a network of regions with graded functional specialization, that is distributed across both hemispheres. Specifically, the claim is that face recognition, which is acquired relatively early in life, is processed by VOTC regions in both hemispheres. Once literacy is acquired, word recognition, which is co-lateralized with language areas, primarily engages the left VOTC and, consequently, face recognition is primarily, albeit not exclusively, mediated by the right VOTC. I will present psychological and neural evidence from a range of studies conducted with normal adults and children, as well as from cases with neuropsychological deficits and from cases with hemispherectomy, and will also consider evidence that seems incompatible with this account. Last, I will offer suggestions for future investigations whose findings may further refine this account and enhance our understanding of the cerebral hemispheres.

The Distinguished Career Contributions Award (DCC) was established in 2012 and it is sponsored by the Fred Kavli Foundation from 2019-2023. This award honors senior cognitive neuroscientists for their sustained and distinguished career, including outstanding scientific contributions, leadership and mentoring in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

An annual call for nominations for the Fred Kavli Distinguished Career Contributions Award 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 Fred Kavli Distinguished Career Contributions lecture.


Previous Winner:

2019 Daniel L. Schacter, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
2018 Alfonso Caramazza, Harvard University
2017 Marcia K. Johnson, Yale University
2016 James Haxby, University of Trento, Dartmouth College
2015 Marta Kutas, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
2014 Marsel Mesulam, M.D., Northwestern University
2013 Robert T. Knight, M.D., University of California, Berkeley
2012 Morris Moscovitch, Ph.D., University of Toronto



CNS 2020
Date TBA

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