was invited to help initiate atomic energy research in Canada, the pair were married and sailed North America aboard the zigzagging (to avoid German U-boats) Queen Elizabeth.
In 1950, already doing her PhD at McGill, Milner began studying the epilepsy patients of famed neurosurgeon, Wilder Penfield at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI).
"I fell in love with the place and the work right away," recalls Milner
It was during this time Milner met and began her seminal work with H.M., an epilepsy patient in Hartford, Conn. who suffered severe memory impairment following the removal of the medial temporal lobe on both sides of his brain.
Although Milner worked with H.M. over the course of several decades, he never remembered having met her from one day to the next.
complete a series of learning tasks, Milner
noticed that the only one in which he
made progress through practice (virtually impossible for someone who forgets everything they did five minutes ago) was a simple motor coordination task in which he
had to trace a large star while looking in a mirror.
performance steadily over a three-day trial, even though he
had no recollection of ever having done it in the first place.
The findings lead Milner
to speculate that certain motor skills can be developed independently of the medial temporal-lobe system.
Milner's breakthrough proved that the brain was not just governed by a solitary memory system, a revolutionary concept in the 1950s.
has been blazing trails over the last 50 years, making her
name as one of the most important neuroscientists of the twentieth century.
Along with the accolades have come the awards.
been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences
(USA) and the Royal Societies of London and Canada
and is a Companion of the Order of Canada, to name but a few of her
All the while, Milner
has been carefully socking away the prize money along with her
"It's funny, because I never had any money.
I mean I really never had any money," says Milner
On Oct. 1, Milner
took that "little bit of money" and, in conjunction with the launch of the MNI
's â€˜Thinking Ahead' Campaign announced the formation of the $1 million Brenda Milner Foundation
to support postdoctoral fellowships in cognitive neuroscience at the MNI.
"[Postdocs] are in a difficult spot," she
"It is getting harder and harder to get your first academic position."
The gift is perfect Milner, someone who says "I have no children except for my students."
no longer conducts as much research as before, it is clear Milner is enthusiastic about teaching and about keeping her
hand in the game.
"I like to be part of things," she