Dr. Milner, originally from England, began her doctoral research in the 1950's with Dr. Donald Hebb in the Department of Psychology at McGill University. With Dr. Hebb's encouragement, she came to the MNI to work with Dr. Wilder Penfield. Her careful empirical work with patients helped Dr. Penfield define functional areas of the brain, important information for a neurosurgeon. Over several decades, Dr. Milner studied HM, a post-surgical patient made famous by her studies, and identified multiple memory systems by teasing out his cognitive capabilities and deficits. While HM was unable to remember recent events, he was able to learn new motor tasks. In all their years of association, HM never remembered from one time to another that he had met Dr. Milner nor that he had practiced a drawing skill under her direction. Designing a series of subtle experiments for HM, Dr. Milner was able to demonstrate two different memory systems. As evidence of her scientific skill and insight, it would be 25 years before other scientists developed experimental models of animal behaviour to study episodic and procedural memory systems.
Currently, Dr. Milner uses non-invasive brain imaging technology to study the functional specialization in the right and left brain hemispheres, and is particularly interested in the role of the right hemisphere in remembering the location of objects. Active in research and teaching, Dr. Milner is asked frequently to speak at scientific meetings and at universities throughout North America.
The Gairdner Awards (www.gairdner.org) we
Contact: Sandra McPherson, PhD