Creative Research Medal 2008
Jonathon Crystal, associate professor of psychology, is an international authority on time perception and animal cognition. Using food as a reward, Crystal designed innovative experiments in which he showed that rats have “episodic-like memory”—the ability to recollect unique personal experiences. These findings give researchers an animal model that could help in understanding how humans with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders lose their memory. Crystal has also shown that rats are capable of metacognition, or an awareness of their own thinking; his is the first research to show that a non-primate species has this reasoning ability. His work has been published in premier journals such as Current Biology, and articles about his research have appeared in several high-profile popular publications, including Newsweek and The New York Times.