Lederman Lecture: Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

V.S. Ramachandran is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Distinguished Professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. Ramachandran initially trained as a doctor and elected a fellow of the royal college of physicians (FRCP; London) prior ro which he received medical training MD (MBBS) at Stanley Medical College, Madras, India. He also obtained a PhD from Trinity College at the University of Cambridge and two honorary doctorates (DSc). Ramachandran’s early work was on visual perception but he is best known for his experiments in behavioral neurology, which, despite their apparent simplicity, have had a profound impact the way we think about the brain. He has been called “The Marco Polo of neuroscience” by Richard Dawkins and “The modern Paul Broca” by Eric Kandel.

His book Tell Tale Brain, chronicling his subsequent work in neurology, was a New York Times best-seller. In it he describes his discoveries on syndromes such as phantom limbs, xenomelia (desire for amputation) and Capgras syndrome--often using a simple, low-tech approach that characterizes all his research. 

In 2005 he was awarded the Henry Dale Medal and honorary life membership by the Royal Institution of London, where he also gave a Friday evening discourse. His other honours and awards include fellowships from All Souls College, Oxford, and from Stanford University (Hilgard Visiting Professor); the Presidential Lecture Award from the American Academy of Neurology, two honorary doctorates, the annual Ramon Y Cajal award from the International Neuropsychiatry Society, and the Ariens-Kappers medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. In 2003 he gave the annual BBC Reith lectures and was the first physician/psychologist to give the lectures since they were begun by Bertrand Russel in 1949. He also gave the annual Gifford Lectures in Glasgow, (2012). In 1995 he gave the Decade of the Brain lecture at the 25th annual (Silver Jubilee) meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Most recently the President of India conferred on him the second highest civilian award and honorific title in India, the Padma Bhushan. And TIME magazine named him on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

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