About the Award

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 of $100,000 are presented biennially.

Stanislas Dehaene, NeuroSpin Center, and Vonnie C. McLoyd, University of Michigan, each received a 2024 Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences.

Dehaene’s groundbreaking work examines the cognitive mechanisms and brain processes of mathematics, reading, language, and consciousness.

2024 Atkinson Prize, Dehaene social

His experimental, computational, and theoretical research uses behavioral and brain-imaging techniques to probe how the human brain acquires new capacities through language and education. His work provides critical insight to understand the processes behind how we learn to read words and numbers.

Dehaene’s studies continue to take neuroimaging methods into new territory, advance theories in cognitive science, and create bridges from the numerical and spatial reasoning of animals and infants to mathematical thinking at the highest levels.

Watch Dehaene’s acceptance speech.

McLoyd’s seminal work delineates how economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and financial insecurity influence family life and adolescent development in ways that have intergenerational consequences.

Her studies demonstrate that economic hardship can adversely affect adolescent socioemotional development partly by undermining the mother’s mental health and, in turn, interfering with high-quality parenting. In addition to highlighting links between adolescents’ mental health and how they view their family’s economic conditions, her studies provide evidence of the protective effects of social support on parents and adolescents experiencing poverty, neighborhood violence, and interpersonal violence. McLoyd’s systematic analyses and critiques of the deficit, race-comparative paradigm in developmental psychology helped move the study of African American children toward one that gives more attention to normative development, contextual influences, and sources of within-group variation.

2024 Atkinson Prize, McLoyd social

McLoyd has made outstanding contributions as a scholar, mentor, and leader, and through both her empirical and conceptual work, has advanced the standards for developmental psychologists doing scientific work on topics such as poverty, race, family structure, and neighborhoods.

Watch McLoyd’s acceptance’s speech.

Award History

The Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Studies was established in 2013 by Richard C. Atkinson, president emeritus of the University of California and former director of the National Science Foundation. The prize was first awarded in 2014 to Elizabeth S. Spelke 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. Previous recipients of the Atkinson Prize continue to achieve outstanding advancements in their fields.

Most Recent Recipient
Stanislas Dehaene, 2024 Atkinson Prize
Stanislas Dehaene
2024
Vonnie C. McLoyd, 2024 Atkinson Prize
Vonnie C. McLoyd
2024
Call for Nominations

Awards will be presented in a variety of fields including biophysics, astronomy, microbiology, medical sciences, and more.

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Award Types

Previous Award Recipients

Mahzarin Rustum Banaji
2022
Dan Jurafsky
2022
Richard N. Aslin
2020
Susan Elizabeth Carey
2020
Barbara Dosher
2018
Richard M. Shiffrin
2018