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NYU's Movshon receives Champalimaud Vision Award for work on how brain reconstructs images

J. Anthony Movshon, director of New York University's Center for Neural Science, has been named the recipient of the 2010 Antnio 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.


Contact: James Devitt
New York University

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