An SEP Hat Trick: Three from APS Win Annual Awards

The prestigious Society for Experimental Psychologists (SEP) gave its 2008 recent research and lifetime achievement awards to two APS Past Presidents and its Early Career award to a rising star in the field who is also an APS Member.  Coincidence?  We think not.

SEP awarded the Howard Crosby Warren Medal to past APS president (and the Academic Observer columnist) Henry L. Roediger, III, of Washington University in St. Louis. Given every year for “outstanding recent work in experimental psychology,” the Warren Medal is the Society’s highest honor. Four Warren Medal winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. SEP singled out Roediger for “his creative experimental investigations of false memory and its underlying processes that have led to a new understanding of human memory.” The Society also stated that Roediger’s work, particularly the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) false memory paradigm, “has become a central thrust in the study of false memory — one of the most exciting and important new areas of research in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience in the last 30 years.” Roediger said he was “quite flattered” to win the medal and quick to point out that “the particular line of research that was responsible for the award was highly collaborative in nature…so many other people should share in the credit.” In particular, he thanked Kathleen McDermott (co-developer of the DRM paradigm), Dave Gallo, Dave Balota, Mark McDaniel, Beth Marsh, Dave McCabe, Alan Castel, Michelle Meade, Jason Watson, Jeff Karpicke, and Jason Chan.

SEP awarded the Norman A. Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award to APS Past President James L. McGaugh, University of California-Irvine.  In presenting the award, the Society cited McGaugh’s “lifetime of scientific work illuminating the mechanisms by which events that occur after learning influence the consolidation and storage of memory.” McGaugh’s research examines the ways in which drugs and stress hormones improve and impair memory. He has conducted research into memory and the brain for five decades. His most recent work has highlighted the role that stress hormones, like epinephrine and cortisol in humans, play in consolidating memory, particularly affecting the basolateral amygdala, which in turn influences other regions of the brain which are involved in memory. McGaugh emphasizes that credit must be shared by a great many graduate students, postdocs, visiting scientists and undergraduate students who contributed both ideas and effort to the research conducted in his lab over many decades.

The Society also gave the Early Investigator Award to APS Member Elizabeth Brannon, Duke University.  Brannon received the award for her “contribution to our understanding of the non-verbal numerical abilities of monkeys and human infants at the cognitive and neurological level.” Brannon said she was very honored to receive the award, especially since her “work has been influenced by many of the members of SEP including Herb Terrace, Susan Carey, Randy Gallistel, Rochel Gelman, Liz Spelke, Ed Wasserman, and Carolyn-Rovee-Collier just to name a few.”

Founded in 1904, the Society is an honorary elected group of about 200 psychologists. For more information, see http://www.sepsych.org.

Observer Vol.21, No.6 June/July, 2008

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