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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Person of the week
Fifth couple to win Nobel prize for brain’s ‘GPS’
     2014-October-10  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Norwegians May-Britt and Edvard Moser, together with British-American John O’Keefe, won the 2014 Nobel Medicine Prize for discovering the brain’s navigation system and giving clues as to how strokes and Alzheimer’s disrupt it, which makes the Mosers the fifth couple to win the Nobel Prize.

    NORWEGIAN couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser on Monday won the Nobel Medicine Prize with British-American researcher John O’Keefe for discovering an “inner GPS” that helps the brain navigate.

    They earned the coveted prize for identifying brain cells enabling people to orient themselves in space, with implications for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the jury said.

    “The discoveries of John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries,” it said.

    “How does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?”

    O’Keefe, 74, told AFP that his research explained how London taxi drivers were able to navigate 25,000 streets and know how to get from one to the other.

    “In the same way that GPS allows you to locate yourself in an area or even on the surface of the Earth and then find your way to a desired location, it does exactly the same thing for the brain,” O’Keefe said.

    “It tells you where you are, where you want to go.”

    In 1971, he discovered the first component of the system, finding that in lab rats, specific cells in the brain were triggered when the animal was at a certain location in a room.

    Other nerve cells were activated when the rat was at different places, leading O’Keefe to conclude that these “place cells” formed a map of the room.

    More than three decades later, in 2005, May-Britt and Edvard Moser found another piece of the invisible positioning system.

    They identified “grid cells” — nerve cells that generate a coordinate system, rather like longitude and latitude, and allow the brain to perform precise positioning and pathfinding.

    The jury noted that sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease often lose their way and cannot recognize the environment.

    A part of the brain where grid cells are located, called the entorhinal cortex, is closely linked to Alzheimer’s, said Torkel Klingberg, a professor of cognitive neuroscience and a member of the Nobel Assembly.

    “That’s one of the first places that are affected, so what these discoveries could lead to is the understanding of the symptoms in Alzheimer’s and other diseases,” he told AFP.

    May-Britt Moser told the Nobel Foundation that she was “in shock” at winning and described how teamwork with her husband had facilitated the groundbreaking research.

    “We have the same vision, we love to understand and we do that by talking to each other, talking to other people and then try to address the questions we are interested in, the best way we can think of,” she said.

    May-Britt Moser danced and drank champagne with her colleagues in Trondheim after she was told of the award.

    “This is so great, this is crazy. I am just jumping, screaming,” Moser told Reuters. “I am so proud of all the support that we have had. People have believed in us, in what we have been doing and now this is the reward.”

    Norwegian TV showed her co-workers singing “Happy Nobel to you” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”

    Her husband, who was on a flight to Munich when the announcement came, only learned of the award when he stepped off the plane and was welcomed with flowers by airport officials — and discovered he had “about 120 missed calls.”

    The Mosers join a small club of married couples to win a Nobel Prize that includes Pierre Curie and Marie Curie.

    John Stein, an emeritus professor of physiology at Oxford, said that, as with so many Nobel Prize winners, the scientists’ discovery was at first ridiculed and dismissed, only later to get the recognition it warrants.

    “This is great news and well deserved,” Stein said. “I remember how great was the scoffing in the early 1970s when John first described ‘place cells’. ‘Bound to be an artefact’ and ‘he clearly underestimates rats’ sense of smell’ were typical reactions. Now, like so many ideas that were at first highly controversial, people say, ‘Well that’s obvious!’”

    Controversy hit the Nobel Committee’s decision when animal rights groups criticized the rat experiments that the research was based on.

    “Awarding people who have spent decades inflicting terrible pain and suffering on countless animals in experiments is contrary to the otherwise progressive values of the Nobel Prize,” the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement.

    May-Britt Moser replied to the criticism, telling AFP that the lab rats are “treated like humans” and that all work is done in accordance with Norwegian regulations.

    The winners will share the prize of eight million Swedish kronor (US$1.1 million, 881,000 euros), with half going to O’Keefe.

    Last year, the honor went to James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Suedhof, all of the United States, for their work on how the cell organizes its transport system.

    In line with tradition, the laureates will receive their prize at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10, the anniversary of founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

    Edvard Moser was born in April, 1962. He is a psychologist, neuroscientist, and institute director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for Neural Computation at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Edvard Norway. He currently is based at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology near Munich, Germany as a visiting researcher.

    Moser and his wife, May-Britt Moser, were appointed associate professors in psychology and neuroscience at NTNU in 1996.

    They were instrumental in the establishment of the Center for the Biology of Memory (CBM) in 2002 and the Institute for Systems Neuroscience in 2007, and have pioneered research on the brain’s mechanism for representing space.

    Edvard Moser has won several prizes, many together with his wife, including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, and the Karl Spencer Lashley Award.

    Moser also became a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2014. The prize was awarded for work identifying the cells that make up the positioning system in the brain.

    May-Britt Moser was born in January, 1963. She is a psychologist, neuroscientist, and founding director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Center for the Biology of Memory at the NTNU in Trondheim, Norway.

    May-Britt Moser was awarded a degree in psychology from the University of Oslo in 1990. She thereafter was awarded her Ph.D. in Neurophysiology from the University of Oslo in 1995, under the supervision of professor Per Andersen.

    Moser went on to undertake postdoctoral training with Richard Morris at the Center for Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh from 1994 to 1996, and was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the laboratory of John O’Keefe at the UniversityCollege, London.

    Moser returned to Norway in 1996 to be appointed associate professor in biological psychology at the NTNU. She was promoted to a position as full professor of neuroscience at NTNU in 2000.

    She also is a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the NorwegianAcademy of Technological Sciences.

    (SD-Agencies)

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