1987 Scientific Scientific

Since 1950, Dr. Brenda Milner bas been conducting research into the effects on behaviour of human brain lesions. A remarkable woman highly regarded by the scientific community, she has made surprising discoveries about memory function, language and specialization of the brain's two hemispheres. Now, at the age of 69, she directs the Neuropsychology Laboratory at the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital, and teaches in McGill University's Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Born in 1918 in Manchester, England, Brenda Langford Milner was brought up among the symphonies of Wagner and Mahler, by a pianist father and a music-teacher mother. Music was very popular in post-Victorian Manchester, but Brenda Milner chose a career in psychology. After the Second World War, she moved to Montréal and taught at the Université de Montréal's Institute of Psychology.

In 1953, Dr. Milner became an assistant to Dr. Wilder Penfield, the first director of the Montréal Neurological Institute. Affiliated with McGill University, the Institute specializes in the treatment of epilepsy. Dr. Milner's own research there has led to major progress in the treatment of this disorder.

Dr. Milner's work has been recognized around the world and has brought her major scientific honours. She was awarded the Kathleen Stott Prize by Newham College, Cambridge, in 1971; the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award by the American Psychological Association, in 1973; the Karl Spencer Lashley Prize by the American Philosophical Society, in 1979; and the Hermann von Helmholtz Prize by the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, in 1984. Her Canadian honours include the Canadian Psychology Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Science, in 1981, and the prestigious Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Prize of the Canada Council, in 1983. She was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1984, and of the Ordre national du Québec, the following year.

Dr. Milner is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Royal Society of London, and is one of six foreign associates of the National Academy of Science in the U.S. She is also a member of the editorial board of Neuropsychologia, of the Medical Research Council of Canada's Standing Committee on Ethics in Experimentation, and of the American Psychological Association's Committee on Scientific Awards. She joined the Advisory Board of the Montréal Neurological Institute in 1985.