2020 Karl Spencer Lashley Award

The Lashley Award Certificates

The 2020 Karl Spencer Lashley Award is awarded jointly to Winrich Freiwald and Doris Tsao “in recognition of their ground-breaking discoveries of primate cortical areas that selectively encode visual information about faces, the computational principles underlying face encoding in these areas, and the implications of these discoveries for social cognition.”

In a technical tour de force, Winrich Freiwald and Doris Tsao combined functional magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiological recording, and anatomical tracing to define and characterize a set of cortical ‘patches’ in the primate visual cortex that selectively processes information about the faces of conspecific animals.  Along a posterior-to-anterior gradient in the cortex, the face patches shift from a general selectivity for faces to selectivity for the faces of specific individuals irrespective of the angle from which they are viewed.  In subsequent independent work, Freiwald explored the significance of this pathway for social cognition, and Tsao performed causal experiments using electrical microstimulation to show that the face patches exert a major influence on behavioral face perception.  The physiological sophistication, exquisite anatomical specificity, and computational coherence of this pathway provide some of the most elegant results in modern behavioral neuroscience.  

Winrich Freiwald is Professor of Neurosciences and Behavior at the Rockefeller University.  Doris Tsao is Professor of Biology, T&C Chen Center for Systems Neuroscience Leadership Chair, Investigator for Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Director of the T&C Chen Center for Systems Neuroscience at Caltech.

The Karl Spencer Lashley Award was established in 1957 by a gift from Dr. Lashley, a member of the Society and a distinguished neuroscientist and neuropsychologist.  His entire scientific life was spent in the study of behavior and its neural basis.  Dr. Lashley’s famous experiments on the brain mechanisms of learning, memory and intelligence helped inaugurate the modern era of integrative neuroscience, and the Lashley Award recognizes innovative work that continues exploration in the field.

The members of the selection committee are William T. Newsome III (chair), Harman Family Provostial Professor, Vincent V. C. Woo Director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Professor of Neurobiology and, by courtesy, of Psychology, Stanford University; John E. Dowling, Gordon and Llura Gund Research Professor of Neurosciences Emeritus, Harvard University; Catherine Dulac, Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and Investigator for Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Ann M. Graybiel, Institute Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Investigator, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; John G. Hildebrand, Regents Professor of Neuroscience, University of Arizona; Eric Knudsen, Sewell Professor of Neurobiology Emeritus, Stanford University School of Medicine; Edvard Moser, Professor of Neuroscience, Director, Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; and Larry R. Squire, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Neurosciences, and Psychology, University of California, San Diego, Research Career Scientist, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego.