1997 William James Fellow Award

Edward Taub

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Edward Taub has been named a William James Fellow for his fundamental discoveries in the field of behavioral neuroscience and for his application of these discoveries in the development of innovative treatments in the field of behavioral medicine. Taub earned his first major recognition by demonstrating that primates retain considerable residual guidance function in limbs in which sensation is surgically abolished. This finding essentially overturned the Sherringtonian reflexological view that had been the dominant position in neuroscience for the first 70 years of this century.

His work revolutionized the entire preexisting concept of attention on the existence of guidance mechanisms enclosed entirely within the central nervous system. This basic work led directly to Taub’s theory of learned nonuse to explain some of the motor impairment that occurs after neurological injury. He then devised Constraint Induced (CI) Movement Therapy, which has restored considerable motor function in hundreds (to date) of patients suffering from stroke and traumatic brain injury in this country and Europe.

Taub was also one of the pioneering biofeedback investigators. He developed thermal biofeedback, a procedure commonly employed for the relief of Raynaud’s disease, hypertension, migraine headache, and other stress-related conditions. More recently, Taub collaborated with investigators in the United States and Germany to show that massive cortical reorganization takes place in adult mammals, including humans, following neurological injury. At this point, Taub and colleagues have shown that substantial reorganization is the basis for phantom limb pain in human amputees, that it is strongly correlated with tinnitus, and that there is a definite use-dependent expansion in the cortical representation of the fingering digits of the left hand in violin and cello players.