Vilayanur Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D.

Nobel Conference 47

Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor, Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program, University of California, San Diego

V.S. “Rama” Ramachandran has pursued research in two areas, one in the study of visual perception (what a subject is seeing based on what they report), and the other in behavioral neurology (in which his experiments, despite their seeming simplicity, have had a significant impact on the way we think about the brain). He is credited with introducing the use of visual feedback as a treatment for phantom limb pain and complex regional pain syndrome and for stroke rehabilitation. More recently, his work has focused on the causes of autism.

Born in Tamil Nadu, India, the son of an Indian diplomat, Ramachandran attended Stanley Medical College in Chennai (formerly Madras), completing an M.D. (1974) at the age of 23. He subsequently enrolled at Trinity College of the University of Cambridge, where he earned a Ph.D. (1978) in neuroscience and experimental psychology. After a term as a postdoc fellow at Oxford, he spent two years at Caltech as a research fellow before joining the psychology faculty at the University of California, San Diego, in 1983 as an assistant professor. He has been a full professor at UC San Diego since 1998.

Ramachandran is the author or co-author of four books—including Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (1998, with Sandra Blakeslee) and The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human (2011)—and is the editor-in-chief of another. He has published more than 180 papers in scientific journals. In 2005 he was honored with the Henry Dale Medal and elected to an honorary life membership in the Royal Institution of Great Britain; in 2007 the president of India conferred in him the second-highest civilian award of his native country, the Padma Bhushan.