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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
16-Jan-2014

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Contact: Molly Galvin
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences

McClelland and Spelke awarded first NAS Prizes in psychological and cognitive sciences

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WASHINGTON James L. McClelland and Elizabeth Shilin Spelke are the inaugural recipients of the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences. Each will receive the $200,000 prize at the 2014 NAS annual meeting in April.

The NAS Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences will be given biennially for significant advances in the psychological and cognitive sciences with important implications for formal and systematic theory in these fields. Recipients are selected by NAS members in these disciplines. This new prize was made possible through a generous gift last year by NAS member Richard C. Atkinson, and two prizes will be given for this inaugural presentation.

McClelland, the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation at Stanford University, is being honored for his role in formulating computational models to demonstrate the spread of activation through brain networks. His work has contributed to solving many puzzles in psychology and enhancing mechanical methods for perceiving patterns in language and visual sciences.

Spelke, the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, is being recognized for her outstanding work on the representation of numbers and of the physical and social world in the minds of infants, children, and adults. Spelke's characterizations of the nature of representational systems form the basis for formal models of the initial state of infants' minds and of the learning mechanisms that underlie the transition to adulthood.

"James McClelland and Elizabeth Shilin Spelke have both made significant contributions to our understanding of how the brain works," said NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone. "We are pleased to present our first awards in psychological and cognitive sciences to them."

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

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