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Dr. Michael Petrides: Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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Published: 8 May 2007

Dr. Michael Petrides, a leading expert in the field of cognitive neuroscience, was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Michael Petrides, a leading expert in the field of cognitive neuroscience, was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Petrides, a James McGill Professor, holds appointments in the departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and Psychology at McGill University. He is director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) and an MNI Killam Scholar. He is being honored for his seminal research on working memory.

Dr. Petrides is one of 24 new Foreign Honorary Members and 3 Canadians elected this year. In total 227 leading men and women were elected to the 227 year old academy (press release). This year’s inductees include former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore and winners of Nobel and Academy Awards and the Pulitzer Prize.

Inductees are nominated and elected to the Academy by current members. A broad-based membership, comprised of scholars and practitioners from mathematics, physics, biological sciences, social sciences, humanities and the arts, public affairs and business, gives the Academy a unique capacity to conduct a wide range of interdisciplinary studies and public policy research.

Dr. Petrides’ research is focused on the functions of the frontal cortex and its role in working memory, planning and organizing our thoughts and actions. He has demonstrated that a specific part of the prefrontal cortex, the mid-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, is critical for monitoring what is in our working memory, i.e. monitoring our thoughts and plans for action, while other parts of the frontal cortex are responsible for selecting actions based on conditional rules. He has also performed seminal studies on the anatomy of the frontal cortex, including comparative anatomical studies that have changed the way we understand how language evolved.

Dr. Petrides will be formally inducted into the Academy at its annual ceremony on October 6, 2007 at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Petrides is the second faculty member at the MNI to be elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is preceded by Dr. Brenda Milner, recognized as a pioneer of cognitive science.

The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute, dedicated to the study of the nervous system and neurological diseases. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, the MNI is one of the world’s largest institutes of its kind. MNI researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. The MNI, with its clinical partner, the Montreal Neurological Hospital (MNH), part of the McGill University Health Centre, continues to integrate research, patient care and training, and is recognized as one of the premier neuroscience centres in the world.

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