Karl J. Friston is Professor of Neurology and Scientific Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging at University College London. Friston studied physics and psychology at the University of Cambridge, then completed his medical studies at King’s College Hospital in London. He received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping (1996) and shortly thereafter was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999). In 2000 he became President of the International Organization of Human Brain Mapping. In 2003 he was awarded the Minerva Golden Brain Award and in 2006 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; these honors were bestowed for revolutionizing studies of the human brain and giving profound insights into its operations. In 2008 Friston received a Medal from the College de France and in 2013 he received the Weldon Memorial Prize, both honoring his contributions to mathematical biology. Friston was elected as a member of EMBO in 2014 and the Academia Europaea in 2015. He was the 2016 recipient of the Charles Branch Award, recognizing unparalleled breakthroughs in Brain Research, and the Glass Brain Award, a lifetime achievement award in the field of human brain mapping. In addition to his primary medical degree, Friston holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Zurich, University of Liege, York University and Radboud University.
Friston is a theoretical neuroscientist and authority on brain imaging techniques. He invented statistical parametric mapping (SPM), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and dynamic causal modelling (DCM). These contributions were motivated by schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning, formulated as the dysconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia. Mathematical contributions include variational Laplacian procedures and generalized filtering for hierarchical Bayesian model inversion. Friston currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a free-energy principle for action and perception, also known in the field as active inference.
Find out more about Karl Friston’s research at University College London here.