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Robert H. Wurtz Headshot

Robert Wurtz

Dr. Robert Wurtz is an NIH distinguished Investigator in the Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research of the National Eye Institute at NIH. He received his A.B. from Oberlin College in chemistry and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in physiological psychology where he worked under James Olds on intra-cranial self-stimulation. He did postdoctoral research at Washington University in St. Louis, at the NIH, and at the Physiological Laboratory at Cambridge University. He joined the Laboratory of Neurobiology, NIMH in 1966, where he began studies on the visual system of awake, behaving monkeys, and became the founding Chief of the Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research in 1978.

Dr. Wurtz’s research explores the organization of the brain underlying visual perception and the control of eye movement. He developed methods now widely used to study the visual system in awake behaving monkeys, the best animal model available for the human visual system. This method made possible the analysis of the brain’s integration of visual input from the eye with information about movement of the eye that is essential for the active vision of all primates. This approach underlies his subsequent experiments and those of others on the neuronal basis of attention and of visual cognition in general. The recent work of Dr. Wurtz and his colleagues has revealed circuits within the brain that convey information used to produce stable visual perception in spite of our frequent eye movements.

Dr. Wurtz has served as President of the Society for Neuroscience and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Among his awards and honors are the Karl Spencer Lashley Award of the American Philosophical Society, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Ralph W. Gerard Prize of the Society for Neuroscience, the Dan David Prize for Brain Sciences, and the Gruber Prize in Neuroscience.