About the YIA Award

The purpose of the Young Investigator Award is to recognize outstanding contributions by scientists early in their career. Two awardees, one male and one female, are named by the Awards Committee, and are honored at the CNS Annual meeting.

Congratulations to Catherine Hartley and Samuel J. Gershman for being awarded the 2020 Young Investigator Award. Catherine Hartley and Samuel J. Gershman will give their award lectures on Monday, May 4, 2020, 12:30 –1:30 pm, in Grand Ballroom.

Developmental tuning of action selection

Catherine A. Hartley

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University

A diverse set of learning, memory, and decision-making processes enable us to respond adaptively to environmental challenges and opportunities. These cognitive processes, supported by dynamic interactions between subcortical and prefrontal circuitry, change markedly from childhood to adulthood. In this talk, I will present work characterizing developmental changes in the cognitive representations and computations engaged to evaluate and select actions as the brain develops.  I will discuss how these changes may optimize behavior for an individual’s developmental stage and unique life experiences.


Structured reinforcement learning

Samuel J. Gershman

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Center for Brain Science, Harvard University

In this talk, I will survey classical ideas about reinforcement learning in the brain, some of their successes, and the challenges they confront when dealing with real-world complexity. The drive to develop computational solutions to these challenges has led to new insights into the functions of dopamine, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. A common theme is the need for solutions that exploit structure in the environment.


Previous Winners


Muireann Irish, The University of Sydney, Australia
Michael W. Cole, Rutgers University – Newark


Morgan Barense, University of Toronto
Michael Yassa, University of California, Irvine


Leah Somerville, Ph.D., Harvard University
Nicholas Turk-Browne, Ph.D., Princeton University


Adriana Galvan, UCLA
Joel Voss, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Donna Rose Addis, Ph.D., University of Auckland, NZ
Christopher Summerfield, Ph.D., University of Oxford


Daphna Shohamy, Ph.D. , Columbia University
David Badre, Ph.D., Brown University


Uta Noppeney, Ph.D., University of Birmingham, UK
Tor Wager, Ph.D., University of Colorado


Adam Aron, Ph.D., University of California San Diego Roshan Cools, Ph.D., Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour


Michael J. Frank, Ph.D., Brown University
Elizabeth Kensinger, Ph.D., Boston College


Kara Federmeier, University of Illinois
Adam Anderson, University of Toronto


Lila Davachi, New York University
Clayton Curtis, New York University


Charan Ranganath, University of California Davis
Kevin Ochsner, Columbia University
Rebecca Saxe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Silvia A. Bunge, University of California
Steven Laureys, MD, University of Liège


Frank Tong, Vanderbilt University
Alumit Ishai, University of Zurich


Sabine Kastner, Princeton University
Kevin LaBar, Duke University


Anthony Wagner, Stanford University
Eleanor Maguire, University College London


Roberto Cabeza, Duke University
Sharon Thompson-Schill, University of Pennsylvania


Isabel Gauthier, Vanderbilt University
Randy Buckner, Washington University Saint Louis

CNS 2020
Date TBA

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