The trophy features a head and brain(waves) in the shape of a heart and bearing a text  by Pascal (Pensée 277), one of the founders of present-day cognitive science: ‘Le Coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point’. Which means ‘the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of’. The trophy was designed and produced by Don Staakman.

The C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science honours pioneering work and research excellence in cognitive science.

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken established the prize in 2006 in memory of her father Alfred Heineken, who was fascinated by the workings of the human brain. Cognitive science is still a young field of research. But a wealth of experience has been built up over the past half century on our ability to think, talk, learn, decide, and perceive. With this prize, awarded every two years, Charlenee Carvalho-Heineken wants to honour researchers worldwide who have made groundbreaking discoveries within the field.

Laureates of the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science include some of the world’s leading scientists. Among them are James McClelland, who made fundamental contributions to the use of neural networks to model cognitive processes in the brain; Elizabeth Spelke, who executed pioneering research into the cognitive development of infants; and John Duncan, whose work builds essential bridges between psychology, behaviour, and intelligence on the one hand and neural processes on the other.

All laureates of the prize have contributed to cutting-edge research that has great potential to positively impact people’s lives worldwide, inspire young researchers, and promote knowledge valorisation and effective scientific communication. The prize consists of a freely disposable cash prize of 250,000 USD and a trophy, funded by the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation.

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With great care, the board of the Foundation has decided not to award the C.L. de Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science in 2024. In line with the legacy of the awards, the prize will be presented again in 2026. For more information, please visit our news page