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Bill Newsome is the Harman Family Provostial Professor of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and the Founding Director of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. He received a B.S. degree in physics from Stetson University and a Ph.D. in biology from the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Newsome is a leading investigator in systems and cognitive neuroscience. He has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying visual perception and simple forms of decision making. Among his honors are the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics, the Spencer Award, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Dan David Prize of Tel Aviv University, the Karl Spencer Lashley Award of the American Philosophical Society, and the Champalimaud Vision Award. His distinguished lectureships include the 13th Annual Marr Lecture at the University of Cambridge the 9th Annual Brenda Milner Lecture at McGill University, and most recently, the Distinguished Visiting Scholar lectures at the Kavli Institute of Brain and Mind, UCSD. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2000, and to the American Philosophical Society in 2011. Newsome co-chaired the NIH BRAIN working group, charged with forming a national plan for neuroscience research in the United States.
The long-term goal of our research is to understand the neuronal processes that mediate visual perception and visually guided behavior. To this end we are conducting parallel behavioral and physiological experiments in animals that are trained to perform selected perceptual or eye movement tasks. By recording the activity of cortical neurons during performance of such tasks, we gain initial insights into the relationship of neuronal activity to the animal's behavioral capacities. Hypotheses concerning this relationship are tested by modifying neural activity within local cortical circuits to determine whether behavior is affected in a predictable manner. Computer modelling techniques are then used to develop more refined hypotheses concerning the relationship of brain to behavior that are both rigorous and testable. This combination of behavioral, electrophysiological and computational techniques provides a realistic basis for neurophysiological investigation of cognitive functions such as perception, memory and motor planning.