Congratulations to AAAS Fellow Edvard Moser and his research collaborator and wife, May-Britt Moser, who jointly were awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of cells that constitute an "inner GPS" in the brain.
"While mapping connections to the hippocampus of rats moving in a room, May-Britt and Edvard Moser discovered an astonishing pattern of activity in a nearby part of the brain called the entorhinal cortex," according to the Nobel committee. The researchers were able to identify a type of nerve cell in the brain responsible for coordination and positioning—which they term "grid cells"—which allow for spatial navigation in all creatures.
Their work builds on earlier discoveries by John O'Keefe, a British-American scientist, of "place cells" that build an inner map of the environment. O'Keefe will share the $1.1 million prize with the Mosers.
In a press statement, the Nobel prize noted: "Questions about place and navigation have engaged philosophers and scientists for a long time ' 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.
Moser is director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim, Norway, and May-Britt Moser directs the Centre for Neural Computation, also in Trondheim.
Learn more about their award-winning research on ScienceInsider.