American Philosophical Society
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208. Plant Sciences[X]
1Name:  Dr. William T. Newsome
 Institution:  Stanford University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute
 Year Elected:  2011
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  208. Plant Sciences
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1952
William T. Newsome is Harman Family Provostial Professor, Vincent V. C. Woo Director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Professor of Neurobiology and, by courtesy, of Psychology, Stanford University. In 2013 he was enlisted to co-lead the working group for President Obama's $100 million BRAIN initiative. Studying the primate visual system with a combination of behavioral, electrophysiological, and computational techniques, William Newsome has provided a deep understanding of the neural mechanisms mediating basic cognitive functions, including motion perception and decision. The most compelling evidence for the relationship between the response of individual neurons and perception has come from Newsome’s work. Newsome and colleagues recorded the activity of motion selective neurons in area MT in alert monkeys while the animals carried out a task designed to report the direction of motion in a random dot display. They found that the firing of most neurons in this task correlated extremely well with the performance of the monkey. Thus, directional information encoded by the neurons of a single column in MT is sufficient to account for the subject’s judgment. They then found that stimulation altered the animal’s judgment, biasing judgments toward the particular direction of motion encoded by the neurons that were stimulated. Thus, the firing of a relatively small population of motion sensitive neurons in MT, perhaps as few as 200, directly contributes to perception. He earned his Ph.D. in 1980 from the California Institute of Technology. He has won a number of awards, including the W. Alden Spencer Award from Columbia University in 1994, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association in 2002, and the Karl Spencer Lashley Award from the American Philosophical Society in 2010. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and the American Philosophical Society in 2011.
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