Professor Kenneth Hugdahl receives honorary Meltzer Award
The Meltzer Research Fund Awards were announced on 7 March, for excellence in research and for young researchers. This year there was also time for the honorary award for excellence in research, which was awarded to Professor Kenneth Hugdahl.
The Meltzer Research Fund Awards for excellence in the dissemination of research was awarded to Professor Gunnstein Akselberg, whereas Law Researcher Maja Janmyr and recent PhD Graduate Michał Pilipczuk received the Meltzer Award for young researchers.
Every five years, the Meltzer Research Fund also gives an honorary award for excellence in research at the University of Bergen (UiB). Past recipients include Kari Wærness, Bjarne Iversen, Holger Ursin and Gunnar Skirbekk.
On Friday 7 March, Professor Kenneth Hugdahl received the honorary Meltzer Award. Hugdahl admits to being speechless when UiB Rector Dag Rune Olsen called him recently to announce the prize.
“This means a lot to me. To be appreciated on home turf makes this award very special for me. Of the awards and prizes I have received, this is probably the one I rate highest,” said Hugdahl in his award speech.
Important for research environment
Professor Hugdahl has worked at UiB for large parts of his working career, as professor of biological and medical psychology. For many years, he has led the Bergen fMRI Group, who are pioneers in fMRI research in Norway. Along with the Trondheim fMRI Group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Bergen fMRI Group make up the National Resource Centre for fMRI in Norway.
In 2009, Hugdahl became recipient of a prestigious Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for his work on auditory hallucinations. The work of Hugdahl and his team has led to innovative solutions, such as an iPhone app based on dichotic listening tests.
Hugdahl and others from the Bergen fMRI Group are also part of the Oslo-based Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), a National Centre of Excellence (SFF) since 2013 and co-ordinated at the University of Oslo.
Solving the mystery
The psychology professor believes that the honorary award is important also for all the people he works with.
“Many people are behind an award like this: PhDs, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants and technical support staff. They are all an integral and extremely important part of this work,” said Hugdahl. “Not to forget all the patients and people who have volunteered for our research. This award has an effect on everyone in our research environment as a signal of the quality of our work.”
Hugdahl also has ambitions for the future. In the last few years he has worked a lot on the mysteries connected with hearing voices.
“I am approaching pension age, but I want to do something remarkable before I retire,” he promises. “I hope we have a breakthrough in understanding what goes on in the brain when people hear voices that are not physically present. If we can understand what creates this experience, we may be able to treat and create new medicines to solve this mystery.”
(Translated from the Norwegian by Sverre Ole Drønen.)