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.

“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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