Great Mind

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Spring/Summer 2021

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Daeyeol Lee has been awarded the 2021 Samsung Ho-am Prize in Medicine — established in 1991 and often referred to as the Korean equivalent of the Nobel Prize — in recognition of his research on the neural mechanisms of decision making.

Lee, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, is known for having helped to develop the field of neuroeconomics, or decision neuroscience, which integrates neuroscience and economics as well as tools from artificial intelligence, psychology and other areas.

Current research in Lee’s laboratory explores how humans choose actions by combining previously acquired knowledge, such as the subway map of a city, and constantly changing goals, such as a desired destination. Lee hopes to gain an understanding of the nature of neural activity and brain circuits responsible for mental simulation, which is disrupted in many psychiatric illnesses.

In his recent book, Birth of Intelligence (Oxford University Press, 2020), Lee traces the development of the brain and intelligence from self-replicating RNA to different animal species, humans and even computers in order to address fundamental questions on the origins, development and limitations of intelligence, as well as the implications for artificial intelligence and its future role in our society.