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NYU’s Movshon Receives Champalimaud Vision Award for Work on How Brain Reconstructs Images

June 11, 2010

J. Anthony Movshon, director of New York University’s Center for Neural Science, has been named the recipient of the 2010 António Champalimaud Vision Award for his work on how the brain reconstructs images, the Lisbon-based Champalimaud Foundation announced today. Movshon shares the award with William T. Newsome, a Stanford University neuroscientist.

The Champalimaud Vision Award comes with a $1.3 million prize, the largest monetary prize in the field of vision and one of the biggest scientific and humanitarian prizes in the world.

This year’s Vision Award recognizes the work of both Movshon and Newsome over the last three decades. Working at times together and at other times separately, these two researchers have had a major impact on scientists’ understanding of how the brain reconstructs images, so that human beings can perceive, interpret, and act in the world. By building a bridge between psychophysics and human behavior on the one hand and the physiology of individual neurons and what they compute on the other, these two neuroscientists have shed ground-breaking light upon the way that the brain processes visual information that supports perception.

In his early studies, Movshon contributed to the understanding of how the brain represents the form and motion of objects, identifying for the first time neural circuits computing motion perception in the brain’s middle temporal area (MT). In a joint 1989 study, considered a seminal work in the field, Movshon and Newsome demonstrated that neurons in the MT visual area are responsible for perceptual judgments about direction. By monitoring neuron responses, they could accurately predict decisions about perception, thus linking perception to specific activity within a neural circuit. Newsome demonstrated that by altering the activity of neurons, perceptual performance could be either improved or diminished.

These studies proved that the activity of neurons in the brain’s MT determines how human beings to see moving objects in the world. The finding paved the way for studies of the mental processes that link perception to action and for a greater understanding of the complex computations that underlie human decision-making and behavior.

Leonor Beleza, president of The Champalimaud Foundation, said, “Visual perception starts with the eyes, but it happens in the brain. Over a 30-year period, the work of Movshon and Newsome has taken this axiom to new scientific levels of understanding. Because of these two outstanding neuroscientists, we now have a fundamental appreciation for the role of neurons in how we see things move about in the world. Their ground-breaking work, taken together and individually, has laid the basis for continued research on how the brain and its processes impact vision and perception. We are very proud to recognize Movshon and Newsome as the recipients of the 2010 Champalimaud Vision Award.”

Movshon, a faculty member in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology and a former Howard Hughes Investigator, is also an adjunct professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. He joined the NYU faculty in 1975. At NYU, he is a Silver Professor, a designation given to outstanding scholars in the university’s Faculty of Arts and Science. Movshon is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Movshon has a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Cambridge.

Newsome is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a professor of neurobiology at Stanford School of Medicine.

About the Champalimaud Vision Award

Established by The Champalimaud Foundation in 2006 and referred to as “the Nobel Prize for Vision” by the former President of India, APJ Kalam, the Vision Award has the support of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “VISION 2020:  The Right to Sight Initiative”.  In order to provide maximum support for the fight against blindness, the Award concentrates both on practical blindness prevention and on scientific research.  In odd number years, The Vision Award is given for blindness prevention on the ground, particularly in developing countries.  In even numbered years, the Award recognizes outstanding scientific research. 

The Jury Panel for The Vision Award is comprised of leading international scientists, including two Nobel Laureates, and prominent public figures. The are: Alfred Sommer (Johns Hopkins University), Mark Bear (MIT), Nobel Laureate Susumu Tonegawa (MIT), Carla Shatz (Stanford University), Joshua Sanes (Harvard University), Paul A. Sieving (NIH), Gullapalli N. Rao (LV Prasad Eye Institute and International Center for Eyecare Education), Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen (Harvard University), Jose Cuhna-Vaz (Coimbra University), Jacques Delors (former President, European Commission), and Antonio Guterres (former Prime Minister of Portugal).

About The Champalimaud Foundation

The Champalimaud Foundation is a private organization dedicated to the advancement of biomedical science.  With an endowment of €500,000,000, the Foundation’s work is focused on three core areas: neuroscience research, cancer research, and an outreach program to support the fight against blindness. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, the Foundation’s new research center (Champalimaud Center for the Unknown) is currently under construction and expected to open in 2010.


This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Arts and Science, Research, Sponsored Awards, Faculty, Awards

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

NYU’s Movshon Receives Champalimaud Vision Award

J. Anthony Movshon, director of NYU’s Center for Neural Science, has been named the recipient of the 2010 António Champalimaud Vision Award for his work on how the brain reconstructs images. Movshon shares the award with William T. Newsome, a Stanford University neuroscientist.

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