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Morton and Milner elected as Royal Society Fellows
Congratulations are in order for Chartered Psychologist and Honorary BPS Fellow Professor John Morton (UCL) and Professor David Milner (Durham University), both of whom were elected Royal Society Fellows in May.
The Royal Society described Morton as being at the forefront of psychology's information processing revolution in the 1960s, which moved the discipline out of behaviourism and into cognition. 'Morton is widely recognised as a pioneer of cognitive theories that explain and predict rather than describe and correlate behaviour,' the august institution said, before citing some of his most important contributions, including: the logogen model of word recognition, the concept of precategorical acoustic storage in short-term memory, and his demonstration of the importance to speech perception of P-centres in spoken syllables.
Morton told The Psychologist that of his substantive discoveries, P-centres (tinyurl.com/6xkgjs5) are probably his favourite, 'because it was essentially half a day's insight, and a very short paper! My regret is that we didn't patent it and make our fortunes.' He's also pleased that he managed to fit in work for the BPS, including 12 years on the Standing Press Committee, and another four as its chair. 'On the research side,' he said, 'I'm particularly proud of having developed a theoretical method through which I have been able to facilitate a number of students and colleagues, often in areas where I knew nothing at all about the content.'
For young researchers, Morton recommends thinking, building theory, accepting mistakes and aiming to falsify your own ideas. However, he said this depends on your circumstances: He enjoyed time, space and stimulating colleagues at the Applied Psychology Unit and '...we weren't under the same insane pressure to publish that people find themselves under now,' he said. Among his current projects, he's investigating psychogenic amnesia, especially dissociative identity disorder.
Meanwhile, the Royal Society described Milner as a 'leading neuropsychologist of his generation', and mentioned his dual-pathway account of visual processing (a mainstay of the undergraduate syllabus and beyond). 'His meticulous study of ...neurological patients, supported by functional brain imaging, has confirmed a variety of counterintuitive predictions in the domains of action control, visual illusions and optic ataxia,' the Royal Society said.
Milner told The Psychologist that of his many career achievements, he was most proud of his book The Visual Brain in Action, co-authored with his colleague Melvyn Goodale (their book Sight Unseen won the BPS Book Award in 2005; see their Psychologist article at tinyurl.com/b3ktap). For budding psychology researchers, Milner had the following advice: 'Work hard; apply for grants and write your work up, however many times your applications and papers are rejected; find able colleagues to work with; and take opportunities whenever they arise!'
Morton and Milner join a growing phalanx of psychologists elected to the Royal Society, including: Professors Nicola Clayton, Uta Frith, Lawrence Weiskrantz, Endel Tulving, Tim Shallice, Alan Baddeley, Chris Frith, and the late Richard Gregory.
There was also good news in May for Professor Eleanor Maguire of UCL who has been elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences.
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