1987: Sparks

Professor David Sparks
Division of Neuroscience
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

October 26, 1987

Berkeley -- How the human brain controls eye movements is the subject of outstanding research by David Sparks, professor of neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Sparks will be awarded the Golden Brain Award - the Oscar of the world of the visual brain for his research. The award presentation will take place in New Orleans on November 18.

The Golden Brain Award, now in its third year, is the brain child of the Minerva Foundation, a Berkeley group of scientists devoted to recognizing extraordinary original discoveries regarding vision and the brain.

Sparks' research demonstrates that there are at least three separate maps set up in a part of the brain for the visual scene. "These new maps significantly add to our understanding of the signals the brain generates to control eye movements," he says. "Ultimately, this knowledge allows for a more intelligent appraisal of appropriate optical and pharmacological treatments for patients with eye movement disorders," he adds.

A native of Guntersville, Alabama, and a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he received his Ph.D. in 1963, Dr Sparks joined the University of Alabama faculty in 1965 and is a former chairman of the UAB Department of Psychology. He serves on the editorial boards of three scientific journals and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and of the Society for Neuroscience. His research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

The Golden Brain, commissioned by the Minerva Foundation, was designed by nationally known sculptor, Florence Resnikoff, professor of art and head of the Metal Arts Program at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Golden Brains have been awarded in the past to Semir Zeki, professor of neurobiology at University College London, (1985); and Gian Franco Poggio, professor of neurobiology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, (1986).

1987: Professor David Sparks