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The 2006 Grawemeyer Award Recipients and Nominations for 2007

Scientists John O'Keefe and Lynn Nadel have been selected as recipients of the 2006 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for their contributions to identifying the brain's mapping system.

By Jennifer Webb

Scientists John O'Keefe and Lynn Nadel have been selected as recipients of the 2006 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for their contributions to identifying the brain's mapping system. The $200,000 Grawemeyer Award acknowledges and disseminates outstanding ideas in the science of Psychology. John O'Keefe, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, and Lynn Nadel, director of the cognition and neural systems program at the University of Arizona, explained their theory in a 1978 book, "The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map" and in several later journal articles.

They found that the brain forms a cognitive mapping system in the hippocampus section of its temporal lobe that acts as an internal global positioning system. The system is powered by "place cells," neurons that use data about distance and directions to pinpoint locations.

Nadel has used the theory to study Down syndrome, amnesia, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder, while Nadel unraveled how place cells form memories.

John O'Keefe, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, works in the anatomy and developmental biology department. He received a doctoral degree in physiological psychology from McGill University in Montreal.

He began at University College in 1967 as a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow and became a professor in 1987. A fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, he won the Feldberg Foundation Prize in 2001 for work in medical and biological science.

O'Keefe is a past chair of the British Neuroscience Association and has served on the councils of the Royal Society and International Brain Research Organization. He has contributed to many academic journals, including Hippocampus, Cognitive Brain Research, Spatial Cognition and Computation as well as Oxford University Press' cognitive science series.

Lynn Nadel, Regent's professor of psychology and cognitive science, directs the cognition and neural systems program in University of Arizona's psychology department. images/Nadel.jpg

After earning his physiological psychology doctorate, also from McGill University, he held National Institute of Mental Health fellowships at the Czechoslovak Academy of Science in Prague and at University College London. He later accepted posts at University of California's Irvine and San Diego campuses and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. He co-directed the Complex Systems Summer School at Santa Fe Institute for 10 years. He has been at the University of Arizona since 1985.

He belongs to many national and international neuroscience associations and several editorial boards for scientific journals. He received the 2005 National Down Syndrome Society Award for Research. Nadel presented the annual Neal Miller Lecture at the APA Convention in 2005.

In addition to co-writing "The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map" with John O'Keefe, he has edited or co-authored books about Down syndrome, emotion, and language and space, and edited The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, published in 2003.

About the Grawemeyer Award
H. Charles Grawemeyer, industrialist, entrepreneur, astute investor and philanthropist, created the lucrative Grawemeyer Awards at the University of Louisville in 1984. An initial endowment of $9 million from the Grawemeyer Foundation funded the awards, which have drawn nominations from around the world. The Grawemeyer Foundation added psychology to its distinguished list of awards categories: education, improving world order, music composition, and religion. The first University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology was given in 2001. This award is given annually.

The $200,000 Grawemeyer award recognizes outstanding ideas in all areas of the discipline of Psychology. Nominations are judged on the basis of originality, creativity, scientific merit, and breadth of impact on the field of Psychology. To make a nomination, the nominator must submit the current contact information for the nominee and a one or two page letter in English identifying the specific idea being nominated, the author(s) of the idea, and why the idea merits the award.

To be considered for the 2007 award, the nomination letter must be received by February 18, 2006. Nominations may be submitted by regular mail, fax, or e-mail to:

Chair, Psychology Grawemeyer Committee
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292
Telephone: (502) 852-0430
Fax: (502) 852-8904
Email
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