Nancy Kanwisher is the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and Investigator at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Her lab is investigating the functional organization of the human brain as a window in to the architecture of the mind. Her work has played a central role in the identification of a number of regions of the cortex in humans that are engaged in particular components of perception and cognition. Many of these regions are very specifically engaged in a single mental function such as the visual perception of faces, places, and bodies, or the auditory perception of speech and music. Much of her current work exploits the spatiotemporal resolution of intracranial recordings from neurosurgery patients, and the power of deep neural networks to test computationally precise hypotheses about what exactly the brain computes, and how and why it computes the way it does.
Nancy Kanwisher received her PhD at MIT in 1986 and then held a MacArthur Fellowship in Peace and International Security. She served as a faculty member for several years each in the UCLA and Harvard Psychology departments, before returning to MIT in 1997. She received a Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, a MacVicar Faculty Fellow teaching Award from MIT in 2002, and the Golden Brain Award from the Minerva Foundation in 2007. She was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She has recently launched a web site with short lectures for lay audiences about human cognitive neuroscience: www.nancysbraintalks.mit.edu.