William James Fellow Award 1992
Through his research with students and other collaborators, David Rumelhart has profoundly influenced the course of cognitive psychology and cognitive science in the past 20 years. His vision is of the domain of cognition as a whole. His research and theoretical analyses have spanned the field, from perceptual processes such as letter and word recognition, through cognitive processes such as story understanding, language acquisition, and analogical reasoning, to motor processes such as typing and handwriting. He and his colleagues have developed a series of highly influential concepts, frameworks, and theories of cognition, most notably networks, schemata, and parallel distributed processing models. The parallel distributed processing approach ahs been particularly important in shaping the way researchers think and theorize about cognitive processes by showing how global, high-level processing can emerge from the activity of local, independent processors. All of these concepts and theories have proved useful to other areas of psychology as well.
For his scholarly achievements in theory and research that have changed the way cognition is thought about and studied, he is recognized as a leader of psychological science.