York U. Psychologist Doug Crawford wins Canada Research Chair in visual functions of the brain


TORONTO, April 25, 2001 -- York University professor of psychology Douglas Crawford has been awarded a Canada Research Chair for ground breaking work into how the brain transforms visual information into behavioural commands. The Chair will help to advance his work at the York Centre for Vision Research.

In a series of recent papers published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Crawford has shown how the brain enables us to recognize what an object is and where it is relative to ourselves and other objects. This work has significant implications in the treatment of medical conditions related to brain function, and in the development of prosthetic devices that can effectively duplicate human visual and motor function. His most recent findings will appear in an upcoming issue of NatureNeuroscience.

"This award is recognition of York’s long-term commitment to health-related research," said Crawford, adding that the systems neuroscience approach to understanding human behaviour, now called cognitive neuroscience, is a scientific discipline that meshes perfectly with York’s traditional, liberal arts goal: to understand the human condition. "We are reaching the point in history where it will soon be possible to use the brain’s signals to control prosthetic devices, and conversely to use devices to provide sensory input to the brain."

Crawford’s research is also supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and is known for its synergy between theory and experiment, and use of cutting-edge computer technology for recording three-dimensional motion in behaving subjects. His work is multidisciplinary, cutting across the departments of biology, kinesiology and health science, computer science, and biomedical engineering, and is the seed for developing a motor control health research group at York’s Kinesiology and Health Science Program with Prof. Lauren Sergio.

Crawford runs a large laboratory staffed by five post-doctoral research fellows and five graduate students. Three of the senior graduate students – Denise Y.P. Henriques, Michael Smith, and Eliana M. Klier– have made significant contributions to his work.

Through the Canada Research Chairs program the Government of Canada supports excellence in university-based research. Chair holders are world leaders or rising research stars in the natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, social sciences and humanities. When the CRCP is fully implemented, there will be 2000 Chair holders at universities across Canada.


For further information, please contact:

Prof. Doug Crawford
Dept. of Psychology
York University
(416) 736-2100, ext. 88621

Susan Bigelow
Media Relations
York University
(416) 736-2100, ext. 22091