Vision researcher wins Helmholtz Award

The International Neural Network Society (INNS) has chosen York vision researcher Hugh Wilson (left) as the 2006 recipient of the Helmholtz Award for achievement in neural network studies of sensation and perception.

Wilson will receive the award at a banquet in Vancouver during the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks in July. The conference is part of the 2006 World Congress on Computational Intelligence.

“I am extremely honoured to receive this award, as it acknowledges a lifetime of achievement in neural modeling of visual functions,” says Wilson.

The Helmholtz Award is one of three awards presented annually by the INNS to senior individuals for outstanding contributions in the field of neural networks. Wilson will be cited for achievement in perception and modeling.

Previous INNS award recipients have included Torsten Wiesel (Nobel laureate), George Sperling (Fellow, US National Academy of Sciences), John Hopfield and Tommy Poggio.

Wilson is associate director of the York Centre for Vision Research. A biologist whose research interests are cortical form and motion processing, he joined York’s faculty in 2000 after 15 years at the University of Chicago as a professor ophthalmology and visual science, neurobiology and biopsychology. He is also Ontario Research Development Challenge Fund Professor of Biological & Computational Vision at York; a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research vision health research training grant; and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America.

Wilson has published widely on psychophysics, visual network models, cortical neuron models and nonlinear dynamics.

He is the author of Spikes, Decisions & Actions: Dynamical Foundations of Neuroscience (Oxford University Press 1999). As he explains in his preface, he wrote the book because neuroscientists and biopsychologists should be conversant with nonlinear dynamics. “Nonlinear dynamics reveals and elucidates a range of phenomena that are simply inconceivable in the more mundane world of linear systems theory. Memory and forgetting, decision making, motor control, action potentials, and perhaps even free will and determinism can no longer be intelligently conceptualized without a basic understanding of nonlinear systems. At the deepest level, therefore, my decision to write this book was predicated on the belief that an understanding of brain function and behaviour must be grounded in a conceptual framework informed by nonlinear dynamics.”