William James Fellow Award Recipient: Leslie G. Ungerleider

Leslie G. Ungerleider

National Institute of Mental Health

Through her consistently creative approaches to exploring the most complex areas of cognitive neuroscience and her unceasing commitment to excellence, Leslie G. Ungerleider has earned the admiration and respect of scientists worldwide. Her early neurobehavioral work with primates led to the discovery of two cortical visual systems in humans, one specializing in object recognition (the “what” or ventral stream) and the other in visuospatial perception (the “where” or dorsal stream). This pivotal work continues to be among the most influential and most cited research in the field.

Ungerleider’s ability to integrate psychology and brain research has significantly advanced our understanding of brain function and its relevance to public health. Her career has been spent working in the unique atmosphere of the National Institutes of Health, where her vast research experience in the laboratory has led to an increased understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying attentional deficits in clinical disorders of social cognition. Her primate work has guided many of her hypotheses in human imaging studies, and those findings have provided a broader, systems-level picture than could have been derived from the primate work alone.

Over the years Ungerleider has built up an international network of collaborators while mentoring a steady stream of young researchers whom she has trained to become independent, tenured scientists in highly regarded academic settings. Recognized as an outstanding lecturer, a generous collaborator and dedicated mentor, unstinting in her willingness to serve on advisory boards and committees, Ungerleider’s dedication to her field is unparalleled. Her scientific achievements are apparent by her election to the National Academy of Sciences (2000), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2000) and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (2001), a rare triple-play in science.

Read about Ungerleider’s award address presented at the 2010 APS Annual Convention in Boston, MA, USA.

William James Fellow Award Committee

  • Robert Plomin, Chair, King’s College London
  • Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University
  • James McGaugh, University of California-Irvine
  • Morris Moscovitch, Rotman Research Institute