Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Torsten N. Wiesel
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1981
Born: 3 June 1924, Uppsala, Sweden
Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning information processing in the visual system."
Prize share: 1/4
Our vision works by the light around us being captured by a large number of light-sensitive cells located in the retinas at the back of our eyes. The light is converted into signals that are sent to the brain and there converted into visual impressions. Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel clarified how this process works during the 1960s: In the cerebral cortex signals are analyzed in sequence by cells with the specific tasks of interpreting contrasts, patterns, and movements. They also showed that this ability develops in children during the initial period after birth.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.