2008 Gruber Neuroscience Prize Citation

The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is proud to present the 2008 Neuroscience Prize to John O’Keefe for his pioneering work concerning the neural basis of complex cognitive functions in freely moving animals.

His seminal discovery that neurons of the hippocampus respond selectively to the animal’s spatial location enabled him and his colleagues to develop a theoretical framework and computational models for how the hippocampus participates in memory, and to validate these ideas empirically in rodents and humans.

The discovery of place cells and their abstract mnemonic properties was a vital milestone in the development of the field of cognitive neuroscience. John O’Keefe’s work inspired the research of many others in the field of memory and served as an exemplar of the application of physiological and computational approaches to the understanding of behavior.