Brain cell scientists win Nobel prize in medicine

A British professor and two others from Norway have been awarded the world’s most prestigious scientific award- the Nobel prize in medicine.

Announced Monday at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, John O’Keefe of Britain and May‐Britt Moser and Edvard Moser of Norway won the award for their work identifying the cells that make up the GPS of the brain.

Announced, Monday, by Goran  Hansson, secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, John O’Keefe of University College London in the 1970s identified the place cells in the brain that register specific places.

Thirty-five years later, the Mosers, discovered the grid cells, which function as a built-in navigation system that tells animals where they are, where they are going and where they have been.

The Mosers who are husband and wife, are professors at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

The Nobel Committee said in a news release, Monday, “The discoveries of John O ́Keefe, May‐Britt Moser and Edvard Moser have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries — how does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?

“The discovery of the brain’s positioning system represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how ensembles of specialized cells work together to execute higher cognitive functions,” the release said. “It has opened new avenues for understanding other cognitive processes, such as memory, thinking and planning.”


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