George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience
Functional Imaging of the Human Brain: A Window into the Architecture of the Mind
Speaker: Nancy Kanwisher, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, and Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, MIT.
The last 20 years of brain imaging research has revealed the functional organization of the human brain in glorious detail, including dozens of cortical regions each of which is specifically engaged in a particular mental task, like recognizing faces, perceiving speech sounds, and understanding the meaning of a sentence. Each of these regions is present, in approximately the same location, in essentially every normal person. This initial rough sketch of the functional organization of the brain counts as real progress, giving us a kind of diagram of the major components of the human mind. But at the same time it is just the barest beginning. Really what our new map of the human brain offers is a vast landscape of new questions. In this talk I will first broadly survey some of the most widely replicated functionally distinctive cortical regions, and then describe ongoing work into three such questions. First, in light of widespread findings that functionally specific cortical regions contain information about “nonpreferred” stimuli, do some patches of cortex really play a highly specific causal role in processing just one class of stimuli? Second, how does all this complex structure, that is so similar across subjects, arise in development? I will discuss (but not answer) a few recent findings about the developmental origins of cortical specificity, including what appears to be a fusiform face area in the ventral visual pathway of congenitally blind people. Third, I will discuss new modelling results that shed light on why we have the particular functionally specific cortical regions we do, and apparently not others, and why, from a computational point of view, functional specificity might be a good design feature for brains in the first place.
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
2019 Earl K. Miller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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