Helen Neville

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Helen Neville
Born(1946-05-20)May 20, 1946
DiedOctober 12, 2018(2018-10-12) (aged 72)
Eugene, Oregon, United States
Awards2014 National Academy of Sciences,

2013 Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award UC Merced,

2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Presence Rankings for 2012 etc.

Helen J. Neville (May 20, 1946 – October 12, 2018) was an internationally renowned psychologist and neuroscientist.[1] Neville was the Robert and Beverly Lewis Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Director of the Brain Development Lab, and Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oregon.

Neville is known for her research in the field of human brain development, specializing in cerebral specialization, neuroplasticity of the brain in childhood and adulthood, the roles of biological constraints and experience, and neurolinguistics. In order to investigate these topics, Neville used a variety of methods, including behavioral measures, event-related potentials (ERPs), and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Her research has helped to distinguish between the brain systems and functions that are largely fixed from those which are modifiable by experience, and with all her work she aimed to make a positive, tangible difference in society. She was involved in a number of outreach programs and charities in addition to scientific research.[2]

Neville received a B.A. from the University of British Columbia, an M.A. from Simon Fraser University, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. She has been employed as Director of the Laboratory for Neuropsychology at the Salk Institute and as a professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at UCSD before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon in 1995, where she remained.

Neville died on October 12, 2018 at the age of 72.[3][4]

Research and publications[edit]

Neville has been published extensively, in journals including Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex and Brain Research.

Recent topics of research she has been involved in include the neural mechanisms of grammar acquisition in adults, attentional control mechanisms as they relate to working memory, as well as various types of attention and learning mechanisms in young children.[5][6][7][8]

Neville and the Brain Development Lab were also responsible for creating "Changing Brains", a program of video segments aimed at non-scientists to describe what research has revealed the effects of experience on human brain development. The series aims to inform parents, teachers and policymakers on how to help children develop to their full potential. Neurologist Oliver Sacks said the program was "...fascinating and very original in form and presentation - and exactly the way to present (brain) science to non-scientists."[9]

She is the author of the book Temperament tools: working with your child's inborn traits (1998)

Honors and awards[edit]

Neville has won grants from the U.S. Department of Education and National Institutes of Health for her work in neurocognitive development. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Psychological Society and Society of Experimental Psychologists. In 2013, she received the William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science.[2] Here are some of her other awards that she has received for her work in psychology:[10]

2014 National Academy of Sciences
2013 Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award, UC Merced
2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Presence Rankings for 2012
2012 William James Fellow Award, Assoc. for Psychological Science
2012 Honorary Degree, Georgetown University
2012 Hebb Lecturer, Georgetown University
2011 Keynote Address, International Mind, Brain, and Education Society
2011 Recipient, Fondation Ipsen Neuronal Plasticity Prize
2008 Distinguished Lecturer, University of Toronto
2007 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2007 Invited Address, Society for Research in Child Development
2007 Landsdowne Lecturer, University of Victoria
2005 Keynote Addresses: Cognitive Development Society Biennial Meeting and Emory Cognition Project Conference on Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
2004 Participant, Mind & Life Institute XII meeting with the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India
2003 Keynote Speaker, Symposium for Queen’s 60th Birthday, "The Children in Her Majesty’s Crown", Stockholm
2002–present Recipient, Robert and Beverly Lewis Endowed Chair
2001–present Member, Society of Experimental Psychologists
2001 Fellow, The American Psychological Society
2000 Recipient, Justine and Yves Sergent Award, Montreal, Canada
1999-2003 Distinguished Lecturer: Florida State University, Duke University, University of Maryland, University of Washington, and University of Texas, Health Science Center, Houston
1998–present Panel Chair, Sackler Institute for Human Brain Development
1998–present Assoc. Editor, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
1998 Invited address, Society for Neuroscience
1998 Member, National Science Foundation Workshop on Cognitive Neuroscience
1998 Sprague Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania
1996–present Member, Board of Governors, Cognitive Neuroscience Society
1993-1997 Claude Pepper Award


  1. ^ http://www.nasonline.org/member-directory/deceased-members/20033199.html
  2. ^ a b "2013 William James Fellow Award - Helen J. Neville". Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
  3. ^ UOMatters: Influential UO neuroscientist Helen Neville dies
  4. ^ Around the O: UO’s Helen Neville, a leading brain scientist, passes at age 72
  5. ^ "Publications". Brain Development Lab, University of Oregon. 2013-03-09. Archived from the original on March 30, 2013. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
  6. ^ Stevens, C., Harn, B., Chard, D.J., Currin, J., Parisi, D., and Neville, H. (in press). Examining the role of attention and instruction in at-risk kindergarteners: Electrophysiological measures of selective auditory attention before and after an early literacy intervention. Journal of Learning Disabilities.
  7. ^ Neville, H., Stevens, C., and Pakulak, E. (in press). Interacting experiencial and genetic effects on human neurocognitive development. In Battro, Dehaene and Singer, eds. Neuroscience and Education, Pontifical Academy of Sciences
  8. ^ Neville, H. and Sur, M. (2009). Neuroplasticity. In M. Gazzaniga (ed), The Cognitive Neurosciences IV, MIT Press, Cambridge, pp. 89-90.
  9. ^ "Changing Brains". University of Oregon Brain Development Lab. 2014. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
  10. ^ "Helen Neville, Ph.D., Director Emerita | Brain Development Lab". bdl.uoregon.edu. Retrieved 2017-06-14.

External links[edit]