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John Anderson selected for first A.H. Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science

John R. Anderson, Carnegie Mellon University, is the first recipient of the A.H. Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He will receive a $150,000 prize.

By Suzanne Wandersman

John R. Anderson, Carnegie Mellon University, is the first recipient of the A.H. Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He will receive a $150,000 prize. 

Anderson was selected to receive this prize for his ground-breaking theory of human cognition.  His computational theory of human cognition, known as Adaptive Control of Thought (ACT), defines a number of elementary cognitive functions, such as compare, choose, and do.  These functions are part of more complex, cooperative modules, including one that responds to visual information as well as memory modules for declarative and procedural information.  His work has influenced many different fields of research, from neurocognition to decision making.  His theory has been applied to ergonomics and computer-assisted learning.

Anderson received his B.A. from the University of British Columbia in 1968 and obtained his doctorate at Stanford University in 1972. After brief appointments at Yale University and the University of Michigan, Anderson was appointed Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in 1978. In 1983 he accepted a second appointment as Professor of Computer Science. Since 2002 he has held the prestigious Richard King Mellon Chair of Psychology and Computer Science.

Anderson’s many honors include receiving the APA Early Career Award in 1978, the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1994, and the David E. Rumelhart Prize in 2004. In 1999 he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, in the same year, he also became a member of the National Academy of Sciences, acting as chair of its Psychology Section since 2001.

The A.H. Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science is the first major international prize to be awarded for achievements in this relatively new, transdisciplinary field of research that explores the enabling conditions for intelligent behaviour. Ms C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken, who succeeded her father Alfred Heineken on the board of the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation after his death in 2002, agreed to establish this sixth Heineken Prize in part because of her father's lifelong fascination with the workings of the human mind.
There are six Heineken Prizes for science, scholarship and art that are presented every other year during a special session of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year the presentation will take place on September 28 in Amsterdam.