Vanderbilt psychologist Frank Tong named as one of 2005’s ‘Scientific American 50’

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Vanderbilt psychologist Frank Tong has been named a research leader in the 2005 Scientific American 50, the magazine’s annual list recognizing outstanding leadership in science and technology from the past year. Tong and his colleague Yukiyasu Kamitani, an investigator at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, shared the honor for their work in neural imaging.

“It’s a real honor to be considered among so many other great researchers and organizations,” Tong, assistant professor of psychology, said. “The recognition for the field of neuroimaging as a whole is important as these techniques develop and we apply them to better understand the human mind.”

“This is great and well-deserved recognition for Frank,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nicholas Zeppos said. “It also highlights the stellar faculty team in psychology and neuroscience. Their excellence in research and teaching has made Vanderbilt an international leader in this very competitive field.”

Tong and Kamitani were recognized for their work with functional magnetic resonance imaging, a special type of MRI technology that detects the brain areas that become active during different mental tasks by registering variations of blood-and-oxygen flow. Among other projects, Tong and Kamitani used fMRI to accurately predict what an individual was looking at, in some cases before the individual was aware of what they had seen. The statistical technique Tong and Kamitani developed to make this discovery allowed for a much more detailed insight into brain function than was previously possible and expanded the types of studies that can be conducted using fMRI.

Past Scientific American 50 winners include stem cell research Douglas Melton, Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon, former World Health Organization Secretary General Gro Harlem Brundtland, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Chairman and CEO of General Electric Company Jeffrey Immelt.

“The Scientific American 50 is our annual opportunity to salute the people and organizations whose research, policy or business leadership has played a major role in bringing about the science and technology innovations that are improving the way we live and offer the greatest hope for the future,” Scientific American Editor-in-Chief John Rennie said.

The complete list appears in the magazine’s December issue, which hit newsstands Nov. 22. It can also be viewed on the magazine’s website,

For more information on Tong and Kamitani’s research, visit To hear an interview with Frank Tong, visit: For more Vanderbilt news, visit

Media contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS

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