World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

David H. Hubel

Article Id: WHEBN0000832632
Reproduction Date:

Title: David H. Hubel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Torsten Wiesel, List of Nobel laureates affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation, Suppression (eye)
Collection: 1926 Births, 2013 Deaths, Canadian Expatriate Academics in the United States, Canadian Neuroscientists, Canadian Nobel Laureates, Foreign Members of the Royal Society, Harvard University Faculty, History of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University Faculty, McGill University Alumni, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Neurophysiologists, People from Windsor, Ontario, United States Army Medical Corps Officers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

David H. Hubel

David Hubel
Born David Hunter Hubel
(1926-02-27)February 27, 1926
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Died September 22, 2013(2013-09-22) (aged 87)[1][2]
Lincoln, Massachusetts, US
Nationality American-Canadian[3]
Fields Neurophysiologist
Institutions Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Harvard University
Alma mater McGill University
Known for Visual system
Notable awards Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1978)
Dickson Prize (1980)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1981)

David Hunter Hubel (February 27, 1926 – September 22, 2013) was a Canadian neurophysiologist noted for his studies of the structure and function of the visual cortex. He was co-recipient with Torsten Wiesel of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (shared with Roger W. Sperry), for their discoveries concerning information processing in the visual system. For much of his career, Hubel was the John Franklin Enders University Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. In 1978, Hubel and Wiesel were awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University.[4][5][6]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Research 3
  • Personal life 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Hubel was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, to American parents in 1926. His paternal grandfather emigrated as a child to the United States from the Bavarian town of Nördlingen. In 1929, his family moved to Montreal, where he spent his formative years. His father was a chemical engineer and Hubel developed a keen interest in science right from childhood, making many experiments in chemistry and electronics.[7] From age six to eighteen, he attended Strathcona Academy in Outremont, Quebec about which he said, "[I owe] much to the excellent teachers there, especially to Julia Bradshaw, a dedicated, vivacious history teacher with a memorable Irish temper, who awakened me to the possibility of learning how to write readable English."[7] He studied mathematics and physics at McGill University, and then entered medical school there.


In 1954, he moved to the United States to work at Harvard University.


The Hubel and Wiesel experiments greatly expanded the scientific knowledge of sensory processing. The partnership lasted over twenty years and became known as one of the most prominent research pairings in science.[8] In one experiment, done in 1959, they inserted a microelectrode into the primary visual cortex of an anesthetized cat. They then projected patterns of light and dark on a screen in front of the cat. They found that some neurons fired rapidly when presented with lines at one angle, while others responded best to another angle. Some of these neurons responded to light patterns and dark patterns differently. Hubel and Wiesel called these neurons simple cells."[9] Still other neurons, which they termed complex cells, detected edges regardless of where they were placed in the receptive field of the neuron and could preferentially detect motion in certain directions.[10] These studies showed how the visual system constructs complex representations of visual information from simple stimulus features.[11]

Hubel and Wiesel received the Nobel Prize for two major contributions: firstly, their work on development of the visual system, which involved a description of ocular dominance columns in the 1960s and 1970s; and secondly, their work establishing a foundation for visual neurophysiology, describing how signals from the eye are processed by the brain to generate edge detectors, motion detectors, stereoscopic depth detectors and color detectors, building blocks of the visual scene. By depriving kittens from using one eye, they showed that columns in the primary visual cortex receiving inputs from the other eye took over the areas that would normally receive input from the deprived eye. This has important implications for the understanding of deprivation amblyopia, a type of visual loss due to unilateral visual deprivation during the so-called critical period. These kittens also did not develop areas receiving input from both eyes, a feature needed for binocular vision. Hubel and Wiesel's experiments showed that the ocular dominance develops irreversibly early in childhood development. These studies opened the door for the understanding and treatment of childhood cataracts and strabismus. They were also important in the study of cortical plasticity.[11]

Furthermore, the understanding of sensory processing in animals served as inspiration for the SIFT descriptor (Lowe, 1999), which is a local feature used in computer vision for tasks such as object recognition and wide-baseline matching, etc. The SIFT descriptor is arguably the most widely used feature type for these tasks.

Personal life

Hubel married Ruth Izzard in 1953; she died February 17, 2013.[12] The couple had three sons and four grandchildren.[8] He died in Lincoln, Massachusetts from kidney failure on September 22, 2013 at the age of 87.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Shatz, C. J. (2013). "David Hunter Hubel (1926–2013) Neuroscientist who helped to reveal how the brain processes visual information". Nature 502 (7473): 625.  
  2. ^ Wurtz, R. H. (2013). "David H. Hubel (1926-2013)". Science 342 (6158): 572.  
  3. ^ Autobiography
  4. ^ Hubel, D. H.; Wiesel, T. N. (1959). "Receptive fields of single neurones in the cat's striate cortex". The Journal of physiology 148 (3): 574–591.  
  5. ^ Hubel, D. H.; Wiesel, T. N. (1962). "Receptive fields, binocular interaction and functional architecture in the cat's visual cortex". The Journal of physiology 160 (1): 106–154.  
  6. ^ Livingstone, M.; Hubel, D. (1988). "Segregation of form, color, movement, and depth: Anatomy, physiology, and perception". Science 240 (4853): 740–749.  
  7. ^ a b David H. Hubel (1981): David H. Hubel — Biographical Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  8. ^ a b Denise Gellene (24 September 2013): David Hubel, Nobel-Winning Scientist, Dies at 87 New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2013
  9. ^ David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel (2005). Brain and visual perception: the story of a 25-year collaboration. Oxford University Press US. p. 106.  
  10. ^ Hubel, David. Eye, Brain and Vision. , Chapter 4, pg 16
  11. ^ a b Goldstein (2001). Sensation and Perception (6th ed.). London: Wadsworth. 
  12. ^ Boston Globe: Shirley Ruth (Izzard) Hubel Retrieved 25 September 2013
  13. ^ Botelho, Alyssa A. (2013-09-24). "David H. Hubel, Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 

Further reading

  • David H. Hubel, Torsten N. Wiesel. Brain and Visual Perception: The Story of a 25-Year Collaboration. Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0195176189

External links

  • Nobel Prize Biography
  • 2009 Video interview at
  • Eye, Brain, and Vision - online book
  • The David H. Hubel papers can be find at The Center for the History of Medicine at the Countway Library, Harvard Medical School.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.