The Berkeley-based Minerva Foundation selected neurophysiologist Wolfram Schultz of the University of Cambridge as the recipient of its 18th annual Golden Brain Award for his work which described how neurons in the brain process information about physical and psychological rewards.
The Golden Brain Award honors researchers who make fundamental contributions to our knowledge of vision and the brain.
Rewards play a central role in survival and behavior. We eat to satisfy hunger. We behave in ways that satisfy cognitive values such as acclaim and security. Schultz identified how individual neurons in the brain detect rewards, predict future rewards from past experience, and use this information to affect behavior. He also identified the parts of the brain where neurons that affect motivation are found.
“Wolfram Schultz’s work has deepened our knowledge of the neural mechanism that motivates us to do what we do,” said the late Elwin Marg, executive officer of the Minerva Foundation. “His pioneering research may someday help us understand the mechanism for drug addiction and figure out a way to thwart it.”
A native of Germany, Schultz has been Wellcome Principal Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge since 2001. Before joining the Cambridge faculty, he was professor and chair of Neurophysiology at the Institute of Physiology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland.