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Neuroscientists garner Nobel for discovering brain’s ‘inner GPS’

Three researchers honored for pinpointing how brain orients itself in space

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1:54pm, October 6, 2014
ohn O'Keefe (left), May-Britt Moser (center) and Edvard Moser (right)

A SENSE OF PLACE  John O'Keefe (left), May-Britt Moser (center) and Edvard Moser (right) share the 2014 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering brain cells in rats that help the animals create internal maps of their environment.  

Mapping the brain’s GPS system has earned three neuroscientists the 2014 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. John O’Keefe of University College London shares the prize with husband-and-wife duo May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

“I’m delighted that three great friends and three great scientists have deservedly won this prize,” says neuroscientist Richard Morris of the University of Edinburgh, who has worked with O’Keefe and the Mosers for decades.

By discovering nerve cells that a rat uses to keep track of its location, the scientists offer a strikingly clear example of how the brain makes sense of its environment.  The discovery of these navigational cells “is one of the most exciting stories in brain and cognitive sciences today,” says cognitive scientist Barbara Landau of Johns Hopkins University.

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