WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will award the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience to David Herzfeld, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore. Awarded in recognition of an outstanding PhD thesis in behavioral neuroscience, the $2,500 prize was established in 1979 in honor of Donald B. Lindsley, an early trustee of The Grass Foundation. The award will be presented at Neuroscience 2017, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Citing the novel methodology by which Herzfield has approached problems in motor function, SfN President Eric Nestler said, “It is an honor to recognize Dr. Herzfeld for his significant contributions to the understanding of motor learning and control.”
Using mathematical formulations, Herzfeld has shown how the brain systematically controls how it learns from error. He is credited with two important discoveries: First, he introduced the concept of memory of errors, which holds that the experience of error results in learning. This idea represents a breakthrough in understanding how humans and animals are able to learn motor control and was published in Science in 2014. Second, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Washington, he developed a solution to the problem of neural coding of movements in the cerebellum, analyzing data from Purkinje cells to cluster them into small populations that collectively presented to have individual functions. The study, which illustrated the neurophysiology of the cerebellum, was published in Nature in 2015.
According to Kamran Khodakhan, a leading cerebellar neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., Herzfeld’s discoveries solved a long-standing puzzle regarding the function of a critical brain structure.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 37,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.