Neuroscientist Mortimer Mishkin dies at the age of 94

R.Renowned neuroscientist Mortimer Mishkin, best known for his work with cognitive and behavioral memory, died on October 2 at his home in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 94 years old.

Born in Massachusetts on December 13, 1926, to Russian immigrants, Mishkin dropped out of high school to join the Navy during World War II. The Washington Post reports that the officer training program took him to Dartmouth College, where he earned a degree in business administration in 1946. After his service, he was able to pursue his interest in psychology – a passion that was sparked by reading the works of Sigmund Freud in his youth, Mischkin explained in an interview in 2001. He attended McGill University in Montreal in 1949 for his masters degree and stayed at the school for his doctorate, which he received in 1951.


In 1955, Mishkin joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he worked to understand the primate brain and bridge the gap between the observed effects of psychology and the physical circuits of neurobiology. His research has focused on cognitive memory – the system that enables learning and retrieval of facts and events – and how it differs from behavioral memory, which underlies learning of motor skills and habitual actions.

Eventually, he found that the neural activity that underlies cognitive memory occurs in the limbic lobe, while behavioral memory is tied to the basal ganglia – the same region that controls voluntary movement. He also examined how sensory perception affects the formation of memories.

the post reports that Mishkin left the NIH at the age of 90 but returned as a retired scientist after a brief hiatus.

“I don’t know how a scientist could think of early retirement. Just to enjoy the process, we’re sticking with it for as long as possible, ”Mishkin once told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1984 and to the National Academy of Medicine in 1990 for his contributions to neuroscience. In 2010, then President Barack Obama presented him with the National Medal of Science.

“As we can learn more about how the brain works and how to fix it, it will benefit millions of people,” said Mishkin of the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation, “and through that process an understanding of the role will develop. “The science of having made all of this possible.”

the post reports that Mishkin leaves behind his second wife Barbara, two daughters, six stepchildren and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

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