Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014


The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014 has been awarded with one half to John O’Keefe, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Department of Anatomy, University College London, UK, and the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Mosel, both at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway, “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.

John O’Keefe, May‐Britt Moser, and Edvard Moser have solved with their discoveries how the brain creates a map of our surrounding and how we can navigate our way through a complex environment.

John O’Keefe discovered place cells, a type of neuron in the hippocampus that is activated when an animal enters a particular place. Collectively, place cells form a cognitive representation of a location, a cognitive map.

May‐Britt and Edvard Moser identified grid cells, a different type of neuron in the entorhinal cortex, a part of the brain close to the hippocampus. These cells form a coordinate system for navigation.

John O’Keefe
, born in 1939 in New York City, USA, gained his Ph.D. working on techniques for recording of single neuron activity in animals in 1967. He then took a position at University College London, UK, as a postdoctoral fellow funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and became Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience there in 1987.
O’Keefe is currently Director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre in Neural Circuits and Behaviour at University College London.

May‐Britt Moser, born in Fosnavåg, Norway, in 1963, studied psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway. She received her Ph.D. in neurophysiology in 1995 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and subsequently a visiting scientist at University College London before moving to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim in 1996. May‐Britt Moser was appointed Professor of Neuroscience in 2000.
Moser is currently Director of the Centre for Neural Computation in Trondheim.

Edvard I. Moser, born in 1962 in Ålesund, Norway, gained his Ph.D. in neurophysiology from the University of Oslo in 1995. He was a postdoctoral fellow first at the University of Edinburgh and later a visiting scientist in John O’Keefe’s laboratory in London. In 1996 he moved to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, where he became Professor in 1998.
Moser is currently Director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim.
May-Brit and Edvard I. Moser are married.

  • J. O’Keefe, J. Dostrovsky, The hippocampus as a spatial map. Preliminary evidence from unit activity in the freely‐moving rat, Brain Res. 1971, 34, 171–175. DOI: 10.1016/0006-8993(71)90358-1
  • J. O’Keefe, Place units in the hippocampus of the freely moving rat, Experiment. Neurology 1976, 51, 78–109. DOI: 10.1016/0014-4886(76)90055-8
  • M. Fyhn, S. Molden, M. P. Witter, E. I. Moser, M. B. Moser, Spatial representation in the entorhinal cortex, Science 2004, 305, 1258–1264. DOI: 10.1126/science.1099901
  • T. Hafting, M. Fyhn, S. Molden, M. B. Moser, E. I. Moser, Microstructure of spatial map in the entorhinal cortex. Nature 2005, 436, 801–806. DOI:10.1038/nature03721
  • John O’Keefe, Neil Burgess, Dual phase and rate coding in hippocampal place cells: Theoretical significance and relationship to entorhinal grid cells, Hippocampus 2005, 15 (7), 853–866. DOI: 10.1002/hipo.20115
  • F. Sargolini, M. Fyhn, T. Hafting, B. L. McNaughton, M. P. Witter, M. B. Moser, E. I. Moser, Conjunctive representation of position, direction, and velocity in the entorhinal cortex, Science 2006, 312, 758–762. DOI: 10.1126/science.1125572
  • Marianne Fyhn, Torkel Hafting, Menno P. Witter, Edvard I. Moser and May-Britt Moser, Grid cells in mice, Hippocampus 2008, 18 (12), 1230–1238. DOI: 10.1002/hipo.20472


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