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Rafael Malach named EMET Prize winner


Date: August 4, 2022

Prof. Emeritus Rafael (Rafi) Malach of the Department of Brain Sciences was chosen as a 2022 recipient of the EMET Prize in Life Sciences Bio- Medicine Award—often referred to as ‘Israel’s Nobel Prize’—given by the A.M.N. Foundation for the Advancement of Science, Art and Culture in Israel. He is being honored for a lifetime of achievements in human neuroscience that have greatly advanced our understanding of the relationship between human brain anatomy, neuronal dynamics, and cognition. His group’s main contributions have been in human visual neuroscience and the neuronal underpinning of spontaneous behavior.

More specifically, Prof. Malach has made major insights into the neural basis of how humans create visual images, spontaneous thoughts, and memories. His discoveries have uncovered the organization of human visual areas in general, and recognition processes in particular. The Malach group pioneered the utilization of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods to clarify how human brain regions contribute to perceptual and cognitive functions. The group also pioneered the study of the human brain under more naturalistic conditions, thereby expanding our understanding beyond conventional, highly controlled laboratory settings. Prof. Malach’s work has also helped identify neural signatures of a variety of disorders and conditions.

More recently, he has been searching for a universal  neuronal mechanism underlying human creativity and free behavior. His findings implicate the spontaneously emerging fluctuations in cortical activity as key players in these fundamentally important concepts.