William James Fellow Award: Morris Moscovitch
University of Toronto
Through his elegant experimentation and brilliant theoretical insights, Morris Moscovitch’s contributions to scientific psychology have ranged far and wide. Early in his career, his interest in brain function and cognition led to inventive research into the neural substrates of object and face recognition and hemispheric interaction in perceptual processing. This work provided the foundation of his component processes theory, which stimulated renewed interest in the concept of modularity and functional localization within the brain. Moscovitch’s interest in the visual system led to breakthrough experiments and a model of the neural mechanisms and cognitive processes that differentiate visual perception and visual imagery.
Moscovitch may be best known for his contributions to the neuropsychology of memory and for his seminal experiments, involving aged and clinical populations, that described the pattern of lost and spared memory function following different types of brain impairment. This work resulted in the influential Multiple Trace Theory (formulated with Lynn Nadel), which has reshaped current thinking about the function of the hippocampus and the ways that memories are represented in the brain.
He also excels as a teacher. He attracts excellent students and post-doctoral fellows, who flourish in his lab and go on to outstanding careers in their own right. In characteristic modesty, he would attribute his successes to his students and many collaborators around the world. But those who have experienced the joy of working with Morris know that the advances that flow from those collaborations are fueled by his creative energy, the force of his intellect, and the wisdom of his judgment.