Norwegian Couple and a Brit win 2014 medicine Nobel for brain study

Norwegian Couple Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser
Norwegian Couple: Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser

The Norwegian Husband and wife, Edvard Moser, 52, and May-Britt Moser, 49, and British scientist John O’Keefe have won the 2014 Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain.

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The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska institute says that “this year´s Nobel Laureates have discovered a positioning system, an “inner GPS” in the brain that makes it possible to orient ourselves in space, demonstrating a cellular basis for higher cognitive function.”

The Nobel Assembly explains: “In 1971, John O´Keefe discovered the first component of this positioning system. He found that a type of nerve cell in an area of the brain called the hippocampus that was always activated when a rat was at a certain place in a room. Other nerve cells were activated when the rat was at other places. O´Keefe concluded that these “place cells” formed a map of the room.

“More than three decades later, in 2005, May-Britt and Edvard Moser discovered another key component of the brain’s positioning system. They identified another type of nerve cell, which they called “grid cells”, that generate a coordinate system and allow for precise positioning and pathfinding. Their subsequent research showed how place and grid cells make it possible to determine position and to navigate.

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“The discoveries of John O´Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries – how does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?”

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