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Nancy Kanwisher is the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a founding member of the McGovern Institute. She joined the MIT faculty in 1997, and prior to that served on the faculty at UCLA and Harvard University. In 1999, she received the National Academy of Sciences Troland Research Award. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.
The Kanwisher lab has used brain imaging to identify regions of the brain that play highly specialized roles in perception and cognition, including the perception of faces, places, and bodies, as well as various aspects of social cognition and language processing. Each of these regions can be identified robustly in a short functional scan in essentially every normal subject; they are part of the basic functional organization of the human mind and brain. In ongoing work the Kanwisher lab is working to better characterize the precise computations that occur in each region, to discover new functionally specific brain regions, and to understand how these regions get wired up in development and how they work together to produce cognition.