2015 Donald O.Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award Winner
Dr. Daphne Maurer
Daphne Maurer received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and has been at McMaster University since 1973. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Association for Psychological Science, and she has been awarded the title "Distinguished University Professor" by McMaster. Throughout her career she has studied how perception develops and matures, concentrating on the visual system and beginning at birth. Her work has reshaped our understanding of the infant's sensory world and its development, and has improved clinical care.
Daphne began with the basics: how newborn and older babies move their eyes across a scene and what elements of a scene they see. She measured vision from minutes after birth, establishing not only that newborns can see but that they have some rudimentary colour vision and a preference that pulls them toward faces. From there she went onto measure developmental changes in sensitivity to contrast, orientation, form, motion, emotional expressions, facial identity, and information in the periphery. She is currently examining how children integrate visual, auditory and tactile information into unified percepts, both in typical children and those identified as synaesthetes.
In the 1980s Daphne started a parallel line of research at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. Each year ophthalmologists there operate on a small number of babies who are born with dense cataracts in one or both eyes. For 20 years Daphne tested these babies soon after the cataracts were removed, and she has since followed them into adulthood. This has been the first and only long-term study of the effects of early visual deprivation on human beings. Its uniqueness and clinical significance were recognized by the United States' National Institutes of Health, which made the unusual decision to fund the project for 14 years although the research was done in Canada.
The results of this research have been profound. Daphne learned that abnormal vision early in life harms not just low-level functioning like acuity and binocular vision but also cortical processing that affects the perception of motion and the perception of complex forms like faces. In consequence of this, surgery for congenital cataracts is no longer delayed for months or years until convenient, it is done as soon after birth as possible.
This research also showed that normal development of the visual cortex does not stop at age five, as used to be thought, but extends well into adolescence. A clinical implication is that cortical disfunction may be treatable later in life than used to be thought possible. To test this, Daphne proposed to the James S. McDonnell Foundation a research programme comparing cortical plasticity in adult humans and animals, with the goals of finding a treatment for the most common cortical visual problem of adults: amblyopia (lazy-eye). This resulted in the establishment for five years of an international team of scientists, led by Daphne and funded by a US$2.5M grant. They succeeded in documenting an effective adult treatment.
In all of her work Daphne has shown how developmental changes in perception are linked to developmental changes in the brain. For this reason her experimental methods and stimuli have been adopted by researchers around the world who are investigating the effects on perception of autism spectrum disorder, Williams Syndrome, congenital deafness, brain lesions, premature birth, prenatal exposure to lead, and normal aging. Moreover, although much of her research has been inspired by animal models, it has inspired animal research in turn.
Outside the lab Daphne radically altered most notions of the baby's perceptual world with The World of the Newborn. This book deduces from experimental evidence the perceptual, cognitive, and emotional world of the newborn, and derives implications for optimal child rearing. It won the American Psychological Association's book award and has been translated into five languages.
Administratively Daphne has contributed to Canadian science by serving not just on scientific advisory panels but also on committees defining and implementing ethical policies for research involving human subjects, at the national level as well as at McMaster.
2017 Donald O.Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award Winner
Dr. Gordon Winocur
Gordon Winocur, Ph.D., has dedicated his scientific career to advancing the field of cognitive neuroscience by conducting research with a cross-species perspective and by focusing on clinical applications. Dr. Winocur received his B.A. (1962) and M.A. (1964) from the University of Manitoba, and his Ph.D. in 1966 from the University of Waterloo. He subsequently began his first academic position as Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan in 1966. He currently holds positions as Senior Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and Professor Emeritus at Trent University.
Dr. Winocur’s notable influences on memory research began in the 1970s when he developed animal models of amnesia that showed deficits akin to those observed in humans on analogous tasks; namely, impairments in detailed, context-dependent episodic memory. He resolved a controversy in the field by demonstrating that hippocampal damage can produce both a temporally graded and non-graded retrograde amnesia in animals and humans, depending on the type of memory that is tested. In later years, Dr. Winocur, together with his longtime collaborator, Dr. Morris Moscovitch, put forward the influential Trace Transformation Theory that described how the hippocampus is critical for maintaining lifelong access to specific and detailed episodic memories, but these episodic memories also undergo a transformation, such that detailed information is lost while semantic or gist-like information is maintained through extra-hippocampal structures.
Dr. Winocur developed an innovative rehabilitation program designed to enhance memory and executive function in elderly and brain-damaged individuals. Recently, he developed an animal model for studying the adverse effects of chemotherapy on cognition in cancer survivors, and the interventions that promote cognitive recovery. Through his ground-breaking research and, as a member of the International Cancer and Cognitive Task Force, Dr. Winocur has been instrumental in establishing the legitimacy of ‘chemobrain’ as a medical condition, stimulating basic and clinical research, and influencing advances in diagnosis and treatment.
As a testament to the importance of his research, Dr. Winocur was named a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association (1984), American Psychological Association (1987), International Neuropsychological Society (1988), and American Psychological Society (1989). He received the John Dewan Award for Research Excellence by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation (1984).
Dr. Winocur is a devoted mentor to his trainees and to junior faculty. He has launched the careers of some of today’s deepest thinkers and influencers in memory research, and his mentees have obtained prominent research, clinical, and administrative positions in Canada and around the world, including the UK, Europe, Israel, USA, and Mexico.
Dr. Winocur has also been dedicated to service and advocacy throughout his career. He served as the Vice-President of Research for Baycrest (2004 – 2007), and as Director for the Rotman Research Institute (1998). In recognition of his work on the Board of Directors and various committees for the Canadian Psychological Association, Dr. Winocur was awarded the Canadian Psychological Association award for Distinguished Service (1987). Using his platform as Scientific Director for the Alzheimer Society of Canada (2001-2003), Dr. Winocur frequently engages the media regarding the nature of Alzheimer’s Disease, including the warning signs and symptoms, and the efficacy of various training regimens, diets and supplements. He developed and broadcast two radio series for CJRT-FM radio in order to educate students across several universities and the lay public about the link between the brain and behavior, and the importance of scientific research.
2014 Donald O.Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award Winner
Donald T. Stuss, Ph.D., is a clinician, teacher, scientist, and administrator. He currently is Professor of Medicine and Psychology at the University of Toronto; Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Centre and the Hurvitz Brain Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Dr. Donald T. Stuss
As a neuropsychologist, he has worked primarily in patients who have changes to their frontal lobes, as might occur after stroke, traumatic brain injury or dementia.
His research has had considerable impact on rehabilitation and treatment of these patients. His edited book on Cognitive Neurorehabilitation 2nd ed. (2008) won honourable mention by the British Medical Association. His theory on frontal lobe functioning is being used by the Oliver Zangwill Institute to guide their therapy interventions in individuals with traumatic brain injury.His research parallels his clinical interest. Through the lens of the anatomy and functions of the frontal lobes, he studies the impact of damage in these regions in different patient groups. As a Principal Investigator, over his career he obtained over $17M in Canadian research funding, $4M in US research funding, and over $3M CDN in equipment funding. He has published over 215 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts, 50 chapters, 1 co-authored book and 4 edited books. His co-authored book, The Frontal Lobes (1986), summarized the existing human literature on frontal lobe function and dysfunction and is considered the classic historical volume. His publications have been cited over 19,000 times.
As an administrator, Dr. Stuss developed de novo two neuroscience research institutes which became internationally renowned. He is the founding Director of the Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Centre (1989-2008). He is also the founding President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute (2011-2015).
Stuss has received many honours in recognition of his service to his universities, his province, his country, his discipline, and for clinical and research leadership. He received the Order of Ontario, and was elected as a Fellow in two of the three Canadian Academies of Science – the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) (the third is engineering). In 2004, he was elected to University of Toronto University Professor status (awarded to a maximum of 2% of the tenured university academic staff). He has been elected as Fellow of multiple national and international societies: AAAS, APA (four separate Divisions - 3, 6, 20, 40), APS, American Heart and Stroke Association, and CPA. Dr. Stuss has received two lifetime achievement awards from two different neuropsychological societies; the Gold Key Award American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, and most recently the Donald O. Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award, Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science’s highest recognition of scientific contributions.
2014 Donald O.Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award Winner
Dr. Ian Q. Whishaw
When you consider the fields of behavioural neuroscience and neuropsychology the impact of Ian Q. Whishaw is unparalleled. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2000, was the first Board of Governors Research Chair at the University of Lethbridge, and has received honourary degrees from Thompson Rivers University and the University of Lethbridge.
Ian was born in South Africa but grew up in the Kootneys of British Columbia. He obtained his first two degrees at the University of Calgary and completed his PhD at the University of Western Ontario, working with Case Vanderwolf. Following his PhD Ian was hired in 1970 by the U of Lethbridge before there was an actual campus – it was housed in what was then called Lethbridge Junior College. There were about 600 students and no labs. The teaching load was 5 different semester courses, a load that did not get reduced to 4 until about 1980. In order to do research Ian left his family in Lethbridge for the summers of 1971 and 1972 to work at the University of Calgary with Warren Veale, which constituted a de facto postdoc. In 1972 the U of L moved to its new campus and Ian had a very small and ill-equipped lab. He had no colleagues in physiological psychology and none of his colleagues in Psychology actually did research at that time. His early work was an extension of his PhD work on EEG-behaviour correlations in freely moving rats. He did a sabbaticalwith Philip Teitlebaum in 1976-77, who was at the time one of the leaders in physiological psychology. This experience had a profound impact on Ian as he began to develop his observational skills of behaviour – a talent that would eventually lead to a Globe and Mail article in about 2005 in which he was called the "rat whisperer." There is today likely no behavioural neuroscientist with a better-honed skill in studying the behaviour of laboratory animals and human beings. By the time that the U of Lethbridge offered its first MSc, Ian had over 200 publications with an unbelievable number of different collaborators across North America and Europe.
Perhaps the one thing that characterizes Ian's research career is its breadth of topics and its ingenuity. It is this breadth that makes it difficult to point to what Ian actually studies! He has studied EEG, hypothalamic organization, feeding and drinking, the effects of complete decortication, the effect of intracerebral grafts, the evolution of grasping in rodents, spinal cord organization, timing, hippocampal functioning, dead reckoning, development of finger movements in children, dance therapy in Parkinson's, learning disabilities, schizophrenia, and many other topics. Perhaps the two that he is best known for are the analysis of skilled forelimb movements in mammals and the analysis of spatial navigation. He has dozens of papers on each of these topics.
In addition to his amazing research record, he is also the co-author of two successful textbooks. The best known, Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, is now going into its seventh edition in English and has been translated into several languages. For most academics just having two successful books would be a career but for Ian, this has been a side project. He has now published over 400 papers and has over 25,000 citations.
2012 Donald O.Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award Winner
Dr. Sara Shettleworth
For students today, it may be hard to imagine that there ever was a time when evolution and ecology were studiously ignored by researchers in learning and cognition—a time when the work of ethologists and animal behaviourists also proceeded independently of most of psychology. If times have changed, and if considerations of evolution and cognition are now inextricably intertwined, it is largely because of the tireless efforts of Dr. Sara Shettleworth, the 2012 recipient of the Donald O. Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award. She has made it her life's work to "capture a vision of an approach to the evolution of mind in which it is natural, indeed necessary, to integrate the answers to questions traditionally asked in psychology laboratories with the answers to questions about ecology and evolution."
Dr. Sara Shettleworth completed her B.A. with High Honors at Swarthmore College in 1965. Her first publications arose from work with her undergraduate mentor, John Nevin. In 1966 she received her M.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her PhD at the University of Toronto in 1970 and remained to become a Professor there both in Psychology and in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is currently Professor Emerita of the University of Toronto. Funded by NSERC throughout her career, her research on learning and memory in a variety of species of birds and mammals has appeared in over 100 articles and book chapters. An early paper, Constraints on Learning (1972) became a Citation Classic. In it she set the stage for her analytical pursuit of adaptive, ecologically-relevant and evolutionarily-selected behaviors. Highlighting the ecological context of behavior was the underpinning for a paradigm shift in experimental animal psychology that was just beginning in the early 1970s. Her work, and the spirit of her work, has been foundational and inspirational for scientists interested in understanding animal (including human) behavior. In her own research, she linked field and laboratory methodologies in the study of diverse species against the backdrop of evolutionarily-relevant functional analysis. In the best tradition of Donald Hebb, her approach is broadly interdisciplinary with relevance for multiple areas of separate study including, but not limited to, behavioural ecology, experimental psychology, behavioral neuroscience and animal behaviour.
Again reminiscent of Hebb, and his Organization of Behavior, she synthesized the field of animal cognition in a definitive and masterful scholarly work entitled "Cognition, Evolution and Behaviour" published in 1998 with a 2nd edition in 2010. This work has been described as "essential to anyone interested in the...mechanisms that guide animal thought" and a 'magisterial overview of comparative psychology'.