One of the "Four Horsemen of Atheism," neuroscientist and author Sam Harris is known for his works on topics such as religion, artificial intelligence, and terrorism. His books include the New York Times bestseller The End of Faith. He hosted the podcast Making Sense and released a meditation app, too.
Nobel Prize-winning British biophysicist Francis Crick is best known for his ground-breaking work to determine the structure of the DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin. He taught at various institutes, such as the Salk Institute, and was also awarded the Order of Merit.
Born to doctor parents, Oliver Sacks followed in their footsteps to become a neurologist. His successful treatment of people suffering from sleeping sickness in the 1920s inspired the book Awakenings and the Academy Award-nominated movie based on it. He also studied complexities involved in Tourette syndrome.
Neuroscientist Wilder Penfield redefined medical science with his innovative way of treating epilepsy patients through surgery. He would note down his patients’ responses when they would be conscious under local anesthesia. He also founded the Montreal Neurological Institute, but was unable to cure his sister’s brain cancer.
Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian neurologist whose discovery of nerve growth factor earned her the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Throughout her life, Levi-Montalcini's work in neurobiology earned her several other honors and awards, including the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement and the European Academy of Sciences' Leonardo da Vinci Award.
Born to rich Catholic parents, John Lilly spent his childhood treating science as a hobby. While studying medicine, he performed gruelling medical experiments on himself. He later invented isolating floatation tanks, studied bottlenose dolphins, and researched on psychedelic drug-induced near-death experiences. He also explored yoga and human consciousness.
While he apprenticed as a cobbler and a barber in childhood, Santiago Ramón y Cajal later took up medicine inspired by his father, a professor of anatomy. Cajal’s study of the microscopic structure of the human brain later formed the basis of neuroscience and earned him a Nobel Prize.
Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Eric Kandel is known for his research on the role of synapses in memory and learning. An Austrian Jew, he left his country with his family and moved to the U.S. in the wake of anti-Semitism. A doctor, specializing in psychiatry, he later taught at Columbia University.
Though born to physicians, Donald O. Hebb had initially aspired to be a novelist. He later pioneered neuropsychology by merging elements of psychology and neuroscience, and thus establishing psychology as part of bio science. His iconic work The Organization of Behavior spoke about many innovate concepts such as Hebb’s Rule.
May-Britt Moser is a Norwegian neuroscientist and psychologist. She also serves as a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She is best known for winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2014 for her work pertaining to the grid cells in the brain's entorhinal cortex. She shared the award with her then-husband, Edvard Moser.
German neuroanatomist and physiologist Franz Joseph Gall was the founding father of cranioscopy, or the determination of intelligence and personality traits from the shape of a person’s skull, now known as phrenology. He was also the first to separate the gray matter of the brain from the white matter.
Considered a pioneer in her field, centenarian neuropsychologist Brenda Milner is known for her immense contribution to clinical neuropsychology. Especially known for her work on memory and cognition, she has contributed immensely to the study of temporal lobe. Her papers on the frontal lobes in problem-solving and the lateralization of hemispheric function in language are also highly regarded by scholars.
German neurologist, pathologist, and anatomist Carl Wernicke is best remembered for his extensive work on the various types of aphasia, or disorders that hinder the ability to speak or write. He also distinguished between motor aphasia and sensory aphasia, or what is now known as Wernicke's aphasia.
Canadian philosopher and academic Paul Churchland is best known for his research on eliminative materialism. Born to a science teacher father, he was obsessed with science fiction and initially aspired to become an aerodynamical engineer. He later studied philosophy and became a significant figure in the field of neurophilosophy.
21 Charles Bell
Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, physiologist, anatomist, and neurologist. He was also an artist and philosophical theologian. He discovered the difference between sensory nerves and motor nerves in the spinal cord. He is also known for describing Bell's palsy. He played a key role in the creation of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School.
Sir John Eccles was a philosopher and neurophysiologist whose services to physiological research earned him the title of Knight Bachelor in 1958. His work on the synapse earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley in 1963. The same year, he also received the Australian of the Year Award.
Torsten Wiesel is a Swedish neurophysiologist whose work on ocular dominance columns along with David Hubel earned them the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Torsten Wiesel is also a human rights advocate whose work with non-governmental organizations earned him the David Rall Medal. He is also a founding member of a nonprofit establishment called the Israeli-Palestinian Science Organization.
Apart from being a successful scientist with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, Susan Greenfield teaches pharmacology at the Lincoln College, Oxford. She is also part of the House of Lords and has penned a sci-fi novel. She supports causes such as Dignity in Dying, too.
26 Edvard Moser
Edvard Moser is a Norwegian neuroscientist best known for winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2014 for his work pertaining to the grid cells in the brain's entorhinal cortex. He shared the prize with his then-wife May-Britt Moser, with whom he also founded the Moser research environment. Edvard Moser also serves as a professor at prestigious institutions.
Endel Tulving is an Estonian-born Canadian experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist. He is best known for his pioneering research on human memory. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and began his academic work at the University of Toronto, where he remained for the rest of his career. He is a recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award.
Swedish pharmacologist Arvid Carlsson’s research work establishing dopamine as a significant neurotransmitter in the brain resulted in the development of drugs for Parkinson’s disease. In the year 2000, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work. During his career, he was also awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine, the Japan Prize and Italy's Feltrinelli Prize.
British neurosurgeon Victor Horsley created history when he conducted the first spinal tumor operation. His research also included studies on thyroid and rabies. He was also knighted for his achievements but died of a heat stroke while serving the British army’s medical team during World War I.
Irish neuroscientist and UCL professor Eleanor Maguire is best known for her work on the role of the human brain, especially the hippocampus. One of her best-known works was on the spatial abilities of cab drivers in London. She has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the British Academy.
Renowned Swiss neuroanatomist and psychiatrist Auguste Forel is known for his lifelong research on the human brain structure. He also devoted himself to social causes, such as the prevention of alcoholism. His early interest in insects led him to study the psychology of ants, too.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam is an Iranian-Norwegian neuroscientist. Born in Iran, he arrived in Norway as a refugee of minor age in 1985. He later obtained a Ph.D. at the Center for Neuroscience and Molecular Biology at the University of Oslo. He often collaborates with American Nobel Laureate Peter Agre. He is also a human rights advocate.
Michal Schwartz is an Israeli neuroimmunologist who is currently a professor of neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science. She also holds the Ilse Katz Professorial Chair in Neuroimmunology. Her works helped to expand the field of immunology in neuroscience, and she discovered new roles for immune cells in neurogenesis.