Experimental psychologists James McClelland, PhD, and David Rumelhart, PhD, were awarded the $200,000 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology by the University of Louisville.
Called "pioneers in neural networks" in cognitive science, McClelland and Rumelhart have collaborated for 20 years. They began working together while faculty members at University of California-San Diego. In 1986, they published "Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition," a book about parallel computation aimed at a broad audience, including psychology, neuroscience and computer science readers.
According to representatives of the Grawemeyer Foundation, Rumelhart and McClelland's findings "continue to affect many subfields of psychology, such as decision-making and language development, as well as the expanding fields of economics, engineering and artificial intelligence."
McClelland is co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint project of Carnegie Mellon University, where he is professor of psychology and computer science, and the University of Pittsburgh. Rumelhart was a psychology and computer science professor until he left Stanford University in 1998 for medical reasons.
Rumelhart and McClelland were chosen from a group of 35 nominees and will be allowed to use the prize money however they'd like.
Each year the foundation awards a total of $1 million for powerful ideas or creative works in the sciences, arts and humanities. The awards were begun by Charles Grawemeyer, an industrialist, entrepreneur and University of Louisville graduate. His goal was to reward powerful ideas or creative works rather than personal achievements.