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NIMH's Dr. Mortimer Mishkin to be awarded National Medal of Science
Date:11/12/2010

National Institutes of Health intramural researcher Mortimer Mishkin, Ph.D., will be awarded the National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony later this month. Mishkin is chief of the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) Section on Cognitive Neuroscience, and acting chief of its Laboratory of Neuropsychology. He is the first NIMH intramural scientist to receive the medal, which the President presents each year for outstanding contributions to science. Mishkin is among 10 recipients this year.

"I'm hugely honored. I also feel very happy because it reflects on the support I've received from NIH/NIMH all these years," said Mishkin, who has worked at the NIMH Intramural Research Program on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. since 1955.

In a series of meticulous studies spanning more than five decades, Mishkin and colleagues discovered much about how the brain processes input from the senses and encodes memory.

"There is no more complex piece of matter in the universe than the human brain, and so the complexity is a huge challenge," he explained. "Each brain area is important for a different kind of behavioral or mental function, yet no area is an island. Every area is part of a circuit. So we've been identifying pathways and trying to figure out how they work."

Due in part to work spearheaded by Mishkin, science now understands much about the pathways for vision, hearing and touch, and about how those processing streams connect with brain structures important for memory.

In nonhuman primates, Mishkin's team discovered that the brain uses divergent pathways to process two different types of memory. Cognitive memory recollection of events and new information is processed by a separate circuit from behavioral memory skills and habits. The cognitive memory circuit courses from the sensory streams through the brain's limbic lobe, an emotion hub, while behavioral memory detours through the basal ganglia
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Contact: Jules Asher
NIMHpress@nih.gov
301-443-4536
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert  

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NIMH's Dr. Mortimer Mishkin to be awarded National Medal of Science
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