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Neuroscientist Robert H. Wurtz receives the $500,000 Gruber neuroscience prize
Date:6/15/2010

New York, NY, June 15 Robert H. Wurtz, PhD, a pioneer and leader in the field of neurophysiology, is the recipient of the 2010 Neuroscience Prize of The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation. His discoveries of how the brain processes visual information and controls eye movements laid the groundwork for subsequent research into the neurophysiology of visual cognition. This research has led scientists to a deeper understanding of how the brain is organized to produce behavior.

Wurtz, who has spent most of his professional life at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., is also being honored for mentoring and inspiring the research of many others in the broad field of cognitive neuroscience. Wurtz currently serves as an NIH Distinguished Investigator at the National Eye Institute's Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, a laboratory that he helped establish in 1973 and then headed for its first 24 years.

He will receive the award November 14 in San Diego at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and will deliver a lecture on "Brain Circuits for Active Vision."

"Wurtz opened up the primate brain for analyses of cognitive phenomena at the cellular level, says Sten Grillner, chair of the Selection Advisory Board. "This was a very important step in providing insights into the workings of the brain - an astounding information-processing biological structure that allows for perception, reasoning and action."

Before Wurtz began publishing his seminal studies in 1969 on the physiology of the visual system in the awake monkey, research showing how single neurons in the brain processed visual information was conducted only in anesthetized animals. Wurtz was the first to demonstrate that these experiments could be done successfully in the awake primate. He did this by training monkeys to hold their eyes still for a few seconds while he recorded their neurons as they reacted to moving objects and other visual stimu
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Source:Eurekalert

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