Top Portuguese award goes to 2 US scientists

June 11, 2010

(AP) -- Two U.S. scientists have won a $1.3 million (euro1.07 million) award for their work in understanding how humans see, a Portuguese scientific foundation said Friday.

The Champalimaud Foundation's annual Vision Award was given to neuroscientists J. Anthony Movshon of New York University's Center for Neural Studies and William T. Newsome of the Maryland-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The foundation said in a statement the award was in recognition of the scientists' research into understanding how the brain reconstructs images.

"Their groundbreaking work, taken together and individually, has laid the basis for continued research on how the brain and its processes impact vision and perception," said foundation president Leonor Beleza.

The scientists are credited with "building a bridge between psychophysics and human behavior," the foundation said.

The statement said Newsome, who is also a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, had demonstrated through investigation how altered affected the perceptual performance of the brain's middle temporal lobe.

Movshon contributed to the understanding of how the brain represents the form and motion of objects, identifying for the first time the neural circuits in the involved in deciphering motion.

The jury that chose to highlight their work was composed of notable scientists from around the world, including a Nobel Prize winner and a former prime minister of Portugal.

The Champalimaud was established four years ago with a bequest from Antonio Champalimaud, a wealthy Portuguese businessmen who lost his sight. It claims to be the largest monetary prize in the field of vision and one of the biggest scientific prizes in the world.

The private foundation was created when Champalimaud bequeathed a quarter of his euro2 billion ($2.43 billion) estate when he died in 2004.

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Online:

Champalimaud Foundation: http://www.fchampalimaud.org/

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