For more than 50 years, the name of Professor Brenda Milner has been synonymous with memory. In the early 1950s, in collaboration with Dr.Wilder Penfield at the Montreal Neurological Institute/McGill University, she made various seminal contributions on the key role of the hippocampus and temporal lobes in recent memory events. The origins of modern cognitive neuroscience of memory can be traced directly to her rigorous and imaginative studies. She continues to pursue her research activities using modern brain imaging to dissect even further key components and regions functionally involved in cognitive processes. Her research has paved the way to molecularly-oriented approaches aimed at deciphering key genomic and cellular steps leading to memory traces.
Brenda Milner earned her BA (1939) in Experimental Psychology and her ScD (1972) from the University of Cambridge, and her PhD from McGill University in 1952 for research on intellectual effects of temporal-lobe damage in man with Professor D.O. Hebb. Since her service at the Universite de Montreal as Professeur agrege at the Institut de psychologie (1944-1952), she has been associated with McGill University, where she first became Research Associate in the Psychology Department in 1952. She has received a large number of national and international awards including 19 honorary degrees, fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada (1975) and of London (1979), the Foreign Associate title at the National Academy of Sciences - USA (1976), Officers of the Order of Canada (1984) and of Quebec (1985), first recipient of the Wilder Penfield Prize for Biomedical Research (Quebec, 1993), member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (1997), Golden Jubilee Medal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (2002) and the National Academy of Sciences Award in the Neurosciences, USA (2004) and, the most recent, Companion of the Order of Canada (2005)