Neuroscience Pioneer Receives BrainHealth Award

Discoveries Revealed the Separate Functions of Left and Right Hemispheres

Apr. 21, 2010

Leading specialists on the reasoning and flexibility of the brain gathered recently in Dallas to look ahead at emerging research as well as to reach back in neuroscience history to honor a leading explorer of the mind.

Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, received the first Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award at a symposium hosted by the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth. The award was created to honor neuroscientists who have made breakthroughs in brain discovery.

Gazzaniga was at the forefront of work that revealed the role each hemisphere of the brain plays in learning, understanding and function. While at the California Institute of Technology in the mid-1950s, Gazzaniga teamed with Dr. Roger Sperry, who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.  The researchers discovered that communication between the left and right brain is essential, because each hemisphere is responsible for different functions. 

“We’re so proud to have Michael Gazzaniga as the first recipient of the Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award,” said Dr. Sandra Chapman, founder and chief director of BrainHealth.  “Widely credited as the father of modern neuroscience, Dr. Gazzaniga is remarkable for not only pushing the boundaries of neuroscience but also for questioning how far such boundaries should, in fact, be pushed.”

Gazzaniga accepted the recognition on behalf of his family and received a $10,000 award and a blown glass sculpture depicting a neuron. After receiving the award, he spoke about “Neuroscience and the Law.”

The award’s namesake, Dr. Charles L. Branch is a leading scholar, neurosurgeon and humanitarian from San Antonio.  Since retiring in 1994, Branch spends time treating patients in the world’s poorest countries. Branch attended the award ceremony with his son, State Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas. 

The fourth annual Reprogramming the Human Brain Symposium was jointly sponsored by BrainHealth and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.  Presenters from UT Dallas, Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and other research centers spoke about new discoveries and novel approaches to enhancing reasoning in the human brain.


Media Contact: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, Brandon.webb@utdallas.edu or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

Center for BrainHealth: Keith Cheatham, (972) 883-3406, bkc081000@utdallas.edu
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Charles Branch and Michael Gazzaniga

Dr. Charles L. Branch (left) presents the Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award to Dr. Michael Gazzaniga.

Recipients of the Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award will receive a glass sculpture with the image of a neuron inside.
BrainHealth award

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