1987: Sparks

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David Sparks, professor of neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was awarded the Golden Brain Award in New Orleans on November 18, 1987.

Sparks' research centered around understanding how the human brain controls eye movements, and demonstrated 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 said. "Ultimately, this knowledge allows for a more intelligent appraisal of appropriate optical and pharmacological treatments for patients with eye movement disorders," he added.

A native of Guntersville, Alabama, and a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he received his PhD in 1963, Dr. Sparks joined the University of Alabama faculty in 1965 and is a former chairman of the UAB Department of Psychology. He served 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. Prior to Sparks, Golden Brains were awarded 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).