Awarded for pioneering science: May-Britt (second on the left) and Edvard I. Moser with their daughters at the Nobel Prize Awards in Stockholm in 2014. For the occasion, her spectacular dress made by Matthew Hubble, illustrates a glittering neuron pattern. (Photo: Alexander Mahmoud/Nobelprize.org)
Since 1901, The Nobel Prize have been awarded to 48 women – including Marie Curie who won twice. However, for every female scientist whose work has been recognized and celebrated, there are thousands who have been accidentally or purposefully forgotten.
A recent book by Rachel Ignotofsky called “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World” (2016) highlights some of the renown female scientists, but also presents some less familiar faces and discoveries.
One of them is May-Britt Moser – winner of The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014. Together with her (ex)husband Edvard I. Moser, and John O’Keefe, they were awarded the prize “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.
May-Britt Moser is a professor of neuroscience and the director of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim´s Center for Neural Computation.
The awareness of one’s location and how to find the way to other places is crucial for both humans and animals. In 2005 May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser discovered a type of grid cell that is important for determining position close to the hippocampus, an area located in the center of the brain. They found that when a rat passed certain points arranged in a hexagonal grid in space, nerve cells that form a kind of coordinate system for navigation were activated. They then went on to demonstrate how these different cell types cooperate.
As a psychologist in Norway, she began studying the brains of rats, particularly as they completed mazes. She has also studied how the brain filters out unnecessary information to focus on particular issues and what happens when your brain thinks you are somewhere you aren´t.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews