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The Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (formerly the NAS Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences) is presented to honor significant advances in the psychological and cognitive sciences with important implications for formal and systematic theory in these fields. Two prizes are presented biennially. The prize was established by Richard C. Atkinson in 2013.
The inaugural Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences was presented in 2014 to James L. McClelland, the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and Director, Center for Mind, Brain and Computation at Stanford University, and Elizabeth S. Spelke, the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. McClelland was honored for his significant contributions to the empirical investigation and theoretical characterization of the neurobiology of memory, human perception, learning, language, and other basic mental processes through connectionist/parallel neural network modeling. His more recent research seeks to include analyze mathematical cognition with a Parallel-Distributed Processing approach. The research combines experimental studies and computational modeling studies with the goal to understand the development of human abilities in mathematics at all levels. Spelke was honored for her groundbreaking research examining the perceptual and cognitive capacities of infants and her research studying the continuity and discontinuity in ontogeny. Spelke’s examination into the perceptual and cognitive capacities of infants sought to understand infants’ abilities to relate what they see to what they hear, to represent hidden objects, to reason in distinctive ways about inanimate object motion and human action, and to apprehend numerical and geometrical properties of the environment. In her experiments, Spelke utilized the technique of the infant gaze to decode the infant mind. Spelke’s work helped contribute to the understanding of how early-developing cognitive systems interact to support new systems of knowledge in both children and adults.
Elizabeth S. Spelke (2014)
For her groundbreaking studies of infant perception, infant representations of number, and infant knowledge of the physical and social world, as well as studies of continuity and discontinuity in ontogeny.
James L. McClelland (2014)
For seminal contributions to the empirical investigation and theoretical characterization of human perception, learning, memory, language and other basic mental processes through detailed, precise connectionist neural-network modeling.