Michael Gazzaniga Named 2015 William James Fellow

The award honors psychological scientists for groundbreaking contributions to the basic science of psychology

Michael Gazzaniga, director of UC Santa Barbara’s SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind and a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been named a 2015 William James Fellow by the Association of Psychological Science (APS).

 “We’re delighted to see Mike honored with an award that recognizes his membership in an elite group — those whose research has been truly science-changing,” said Diane Mackie, chair of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. “We’re privileged to have him as a colleague.”

The APS William James Fellow Award honors Gazzaniga’s groundbreaking work in cognitive neuroscience. It specifically honors his discovery of the distinct contributions of the two cerebral hemispheres of the human brain to thought and consciousness and how this has revolutionized the understanding of brain function.

“Michael Gazzaniga has done nothing less than unlock the secrets of the mind,” said APS Executive Director Alan Kraut. “And he has taken us along with him on this journey, beyond the psychological and brain sciences, and shown us all a glimpse of what it means to be human.”

Gazzaniga is the first UC Santa Barbara recipient of the award, the highest honor APS confers on its members. More than 150 people have received the William James Fellow Award since it began in 1989. Other psychological scientists receiving the award for 2015 include Susan Goldin-Meadow of the University of Chicago, Joseph LeDoux of New York University and Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. Gazzaniga and his fellow recipients will receive the official award at the 2015 APS convention in New York City, where each will deliver a keynote address.

“It is always humbling to be honored by colleagues,” Gazzaniga said. “I am deeply appreciative.”

Gazzaniga received his Ph.D in psychobiology from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked under the guidance of neuropsychologist Roger W. Sperry who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work with split-brain research. Gazzaniga has published many books accessible to a lay audience, including “Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique,” “Natures Mind” and “Mind Matters.” These, in conjunction with his participation in the public television specials “The Brain” and “The Mind,” have been instrumental in making information about brain function generally accessible. He founded the Neuroscience Institute and the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, of which he is the editor-in-chief. He is much sought-after as an adviser to various institutes involved in brain research and is a member of the President's Council on Bioethics.

Referred to as the father of modern psychology, William James (1842-1910) was one of the most influential pioneer theorists in psychology. He considered psychology as a division of biology and argued that it should study adaptation. James emphasized the relevance of investigating the role of consciousness, the nature and effect of emotions and the usefulness of habits and instincts.

The APS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level. Its mission is to promote, protect and advance the interests of scientifically oriented psychology in research, application, teaching and the improvement of human welfare.

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