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Neuroscientist from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown receives scientific award

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

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Credit: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

The Portuguese neuroscientist Rui Costa, principal investigator at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, in Lisbon, Portugal, and Professor of Neuroscience at Columbia University, in New York, will be awarded the Ariëns Kappers Medal at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), in Amsterdam, on Tuesday June 27.

Rui Costa was chosen by the NIN as the 2017 awardee "for his seminal work on movement control", the institute explains. "In particular, he uncovered critical mechanisms in the basal ganglia [an area of the brain] that are responsible for controlling the initiation and sequence of self-paced [voluntary] movements."

All the diseases that affect the basal ganglia - Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Tourette syndrome (tic disorder), etc. - have one thing in common: their victims are unable to control their movements. "[Rui Costa's] fundamental research provides a basis to develop novel strategies to treat disorders like Parkinson's disease, autism spectrum disorders and obsessive-compulsive conditions", the NIN adds. After receiving the award, Rui Costa will give a lecture on "Generating and shaping novel action repertories".

The medal, which has been attributed more or less every two years since 1987 by the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Science, is named after Dutch neurologist Cornelius Ubbo Ariëns Kappers, who was, from 1908 to 1946, the first director of the Dutch Brain Institute, which later became the NIN.

Other reputed neuroscientists have received the award. Among them, Portuguese scientist António Damásio and American scientists Gerald Edelman and Michael Gazzaniga (all in 1999).

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