About the Award

The NAS Award in the Neurosciences is awarded every three years to recognize extraordinary contributions to the progress of the neuroscience fields, including neurochemistry, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, developmental neuroscience, neuroanatomy, and behavioral and clinical neuroscience. The award is presented with a $25,000 prize. Nominations are being accepted now for the 2025 Award.

Nancy Kanwisher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology McGovern Institute for Brain Research, received the 2022 NAS Award in the Neurosciences.

Kanwisher is a pioneer in cognitive neuroscience known for her landmark discoveries about the functional organization of the human brain.

Her research using functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral testing have illuminated the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying human visual perception and cognition. She is credited with co-discovering and characterizing the fusiform face area in the human brain, a region that she has shown to be specifically engaged in the perception of faces.

NAS Award in the Neurosciences, Kanwisher social

Kanwisher and her team have further discovered neocortical subregions that differentially engage in the perception of faces, places, music, the mental state of others, among other features. These findings support ideas from cognitive science that emphasize the modularity of mind and link those ideas to neuroscience.

In addition to her scientific accomplishments, Kanwisher has served as a mentor and inspiration to new generations of young neuroscientists.

Kanwisher is currently the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences, and an investigator in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Watch Kanwisher’s acceptance speech.

Award History

The NAS Award in the Neurosciences was established in 1986 by the Fidia Research Foundation. Seymour S. Kety and Louis Sokoloff became the first recipients of the award in 1988 for their work developing techniques to measure brain blood flow and metabolism. The techniques developed remain valuable to the study of brain function and maintain application in clinical medicine. Kety’s nitrous oxide method to measure the brain’s blood flow revolutionized research on the human brain. His theory of inert gas exchange between blood and tissues sought to measure more localized measurements in the brain rather than the brain’s as a whole, which is what the nitrous oxide method measured. In translating the theory to method, Sokoloff collaborated with Kety to translate Kety’s theory to an operational method. The work completed by the two in made huge strides in the field of neuroscience.

Previous recipients of the NAS Award in the Neurosciences continue to achieve outstanding advancements in their fields. Five recipients have been honored with a National Medal of Science, three recipients have received a Lasker Award, and one recipient has received a Nobel Prize in Medicine (Greengard 2000).

Most Recent Recipient
Nancy Kanwisher, 2022 NAS Award in the Neurosciences.
Nancy Kanwisher
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

Eve Marder
Mortimer Mishkin
Solomon H. Snyder
Roger A. Nicoll
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Brenda Milner