Roger Sperry's Nobel Prize

Richard Norman rsnorman at
Sun Feb 4 23:09:08 EST 2001

"Chr. Wilms" <cwilms at> wrote in message
news:1eoaa3u.1k9ll981cxpy98N%cwilms at
> John M Price PhD <jmprice at> wrote:
> >:> Nope.  The Nobel was for the chemical communication stuff deriving
> >:> from his work on the frog visual system.
> >: According to the official web site of the Nobel Foundation
> >: Roger Sperry won
> >: the Nobel Prize in 1981 "for his discoveries concerning the
> >: functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres"
> > Wow.  I should get a refund from a certain high ranking prof for a class
> > where he mentioned just this prize, and incorrectly.
> Well, if I'm not mistaken Sperry did both of the above. But the Nobel
> Prize was only for the second one...

Sperry's first work on was on the specificity of nerve connections,
sectioning nerves and allowing them to reconnect after various
manipulations.  He demonstrated that neurons and their targets
were "marked" chemically so they would "know" where to connect.
The work was not specifically on vision, although frog and salamander
optic nerves were very important model preparations.  The example
of frogs whose eyes were rotated 180 degrees as part of the optic
nerve sectioning was rather a famous demonstration of the fixedness
of the connectivity pattern.  (The alternative previous theory was
that of Paul Weiss who argued for plasticity and the role of experience
and learning in formation of these connections.)

A complicating factor is that Sperry did share the prize that year
with Hubel and Wiesel who DID study vision (though in cats, not frogs).

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