Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience awarded to Kenneth Miller


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kenneth Miller, PhD, will receive the 2018 Swartz Prize in Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience for his cumulative contributions to theoretical models or computational methods in neuroscience. The $25,000 prize is supported by The Swartz Foundation and will be presented in San Diego at Neuroscience 2018, SfN's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

"The Society is pleased to present this prize to Dr. Miller, who has expanded our knowledge of the cerebral cortex and in so doing has provided one of the first theoretical models with real-world applicability," SfN President Richard Huganir said.

Miller is a professor at Columbia University's Neuroscience and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at the Department of Neuroscience, where his lab studies the brain's uppermost region, the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for conscious thought and movement. Miller's team uses circuitry from the visual cortex as a model of the cortex as a whole.

Combining biological insight with mathematical sophistication, Miller is most known for his work to make a reliable model of synaptic plasticity by mapping the receptive fields of visual neurons. This was one of the first instances in which theoretical neuroscience produced data that reflected what was happening in the biophysical system being modeled. Miller has also shown that neurons activate in the primary visual cortex via a feedforward process, in which information moves in only one direction, and theorized the odd firing rate of neurons in the lateral intraparietal area, leading to saccades. Experimental data proved his theory.

A professor for 25 years, Miller continues to contribute prolifically to the scientific literature, with two papers published in Neuron within the last four years. The first was theoretical work later confirmed by visual recordings, which showed that a stabilized supralinear network can explain many features of cortical organization and confirmed the model experimentally. The second was a theoretical framework showing the underlying mechanisms of fast, or Hebbian, neuroplasticity and slower homeostatic plasticity in the visual cortex. The theoretical work was confirmed by the Stryker Lab at the University of California, San Francisco.


The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.

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Lauren Wingfield
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