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2010 Gruber Neuroscience Prize

The pioneering discoveries by neuroscientist Robert H. Wurtz, PhD, on how the brain processes visual information and controls eye movements opened the door to a new field of neuroscience: visual cognition. In 1969, Wurtz published a landmark paper that demonstrated how neurons involved in visual processing in the brain of an awake monkey could be observed and recorded. Using this technique, he went on to make groundbreaking discoveries, including the identification of the visual functions of various areas of the brain and the complex interplay between visual sensation and action in and among these areas. Most current work on visual cognition, including research into such phenomena as attention, motion perception, and motivation, can be traced back to Wurtz’s initial studies. As a result, scientists have a deeper understanding not only of how the brain processes the sensory signals that underlie perception and the control of movement, but also of how those processes go awry in the diseased brain.