— The Swartz Foundation has given $750,000 to the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) to endow the prestigious Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience.
The $25,000 prize — presented each fall at the SfN annual meeting — honors an individual who has produced significant contributions to theoretical models or computational methods in neuroscience or has made a particularly noteworthy advance in the field in recent years.
“Theoretical and computational neuroscience aims to uncover the very basis of how the brain functions. Only by understanding the principles of nervous system organization can the field advance to solve the problems of brain diseases and disorders,” said SfN President Larry Swanson, PhD. “This area of research has introduced profound new ideas and directions for brain research. Thanks to Dr. Jerry Swartz and the foundation’s generous support, SfN can continue to recognize and support talented scientists in this vital field,” Swanson said.
Using mathematical techniques and computer simulations, theoretical and computational neuroscientists study how the brain processes information. By building models that represent the brain at the molecular, cellular, circuit, and systems levels, researchers can test predictions about function. Engineering these models requires a deep understanding of the principles guiding brain development, function, and communication. This research area integrates problem-solving approaches from physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering to better understand the relationship between the human brain and mind.
“Many of the most pressing questions in science — such as how the brain processes information and behavior — require the application of new techniques developed through computational and theoretical neuroscience,” said Jerry Swartz, PhD, founder and chairman of The Swartz Foundation. “We are delighted to support a program that honors the leading computational neuroscience research, particularly in an age that promises so many new and exciting scientific discoveries and technological innovation.”
Since its inception in 2008, the prize has honored the career achievements of five notable neuroscientists. Most recently, the award recognized John J. Hopfield, PhD, whose work, blending neurobiology, physics, and electrical engineering, showed how the collective computational power of brain networks could perform previously mysterious functions, like associative memory. The “Hopfield network” has served as a key paradigm for modeling brain circuits and understanding how they carry out tasks.
Past recipients include Haim Sompolinksy, PhD, in 2011; Larry Abbott, PhD, in 2010; Horace Barlow, MD, in 2009; and Wilfrid Rall, PhD, in 2008.
About The Swartz Foundation
The Swartz Foundation was established by Jerry Swartz in 1994 to explore the application of physics, mathematics, and engineering principles to neuroscience, as a path to better understanding the mind/brain relationship. More information is available at www.TheSwartzFoundation.org.
The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of nearly 42,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. More information is available at www.sfn.org.