Doreen Kimura with her daughter Charlotte at Kistler Prize award ceremony.
Young Doreen Kimura
Doreen Kimura with her granddaughter Ella.
(This monograph is based on 20 years of research with pati...)
This monograph is based on 20 years of research with patients who have experienced pathology in one hemisphere of the brain.
(Doreen Kimura provides an intelligible overview of what i...)
Doreen Kimura provides an intelligible overview of what is known about the neural and hormonal bases of sex differences in behavior, particularly differences in cognitive ability.
Kimura grew up and went to school in Neudorf, a small town near the Qu’Appelle Valley in southern Saskatchewan. Facilities for studying science were almost non-existent at the schools she attended, so Kimura was initially interested in writing, languages, and algebra. Before finishing high school, she dropped out to teach in one-room rural schoolhouses, first in Saskatchewan and then northern Manitoba. She was 17. While in Manitoba she saw an ad in a teachers’ magazine for an admission scholarship to McGill University in Montreal. She applied for the scholarship and got it.
Doreen Kimura became a Bachelor of Arts in 1956 at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. At McGill, she became interested in psychology as a result of having Donald O. Hebb as her introductory psychology course professor. Hebb was the famous neurologist who identified brain structures he called cell assemblies, or what is now called Hebb synapses. His theory-guided experiments that foreshadowed neural network theory, now an important tool for artificial intelligence research. After Kimura obtained her doctorate (Ph.D.) in physiological psychology - the study of how the brain’s biology affects behavior and experience - she spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Montreal Neurological Institute before working at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center and the Zurich Kantonsspital in Switzerland.
She got a master of Arts degree in 1957 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1961.
Kimera started her career as a lecturer at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University), Montreal, Canada (1960-1961).
In 1962-1963 she was a research associate at the otological research laboratory at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center. She was also a research associate at College Medicine at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (1964-1967).
Doreen Kimura became a professor in psychology at the University of Western Ontario in 1967 and worked there for 30 years. She was an associate professor of psychology (1967-1974), professor (1974-1998), professor emeritus (1998-2013) there. She was also a coordinator of the clinical neuropsychology program at the University of Western Ontario in 1983-1997.
She also had a small consulting business that sells neuropsychological tests she developed. In 1998 she moved to Vancouver and took up a position of visiting professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University.
Like many young people, Kimura entered the field of psychology because she wanted to do something that would help people. “But once I started to do the research I was far more interested in how things actually worked, so although I did some clinical assessment and enjoyed it, it became secondary to the research questions,” she says. She subsequently served as a clinical supervisor at the University of Western Ontario, both as a neuropsychologist at the University Hospital, where she studied neurological patients and in the university’s Department of Psychology, guiding the training of graduate students in clinical neuropsychology. The university position was her main job.
Her research helped improve the diagnosis of disorders after brain damage. Several tests she devised became widely used in clinical neuropsychology, so she ended up helping people after all. Kimura says, “It is often the case that what we consider ‘pure’ research may become just as useful in helping people as activities specifically designed to help. This is one of the strongest reasons for supporting research that is not intended to be applied for any useful purpose, but is guided only by a search for truth.”
She was the founding president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship.
Kimura's interests included the relationship between sex and cognition and promoting academic freedom. While some criticized Lawrence Summers' claims that differences in male-female representation in the sciences could be due to innate ability, Kimura supported him.
She was a critic of affirmative action, arguing that it is demeaning to women.
She also supported the concept of the biological origin of differences in cognitive ability between males and females. According to the CISG"s (Canadian Inter-Organizational Steering Group for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology) "Canadian Guidelines on Auditory Processing Disorder in Children and Adults: Assessment and Intervention" (December 2012)," In 1961, Doreen Kimura proposed a theory that would attempt to explain dichotic listening abilities in humans."
Kimura was the founding president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, and she was concerned about new attitudes in the university research environment. For instance, certain areas of scientific inquiry are now frowned upon because some people might take offense at the way research may describe the abilities of certain groups (such as seniors or women). She also does not like the emphasis on collaborative research. “Both these trends kill the creative freedom of the individual. You just have to go ahead and find things out for yourself. This is the mark of a good scientist,” says Kimura.
Doreen was also known, among other things, for her view, still controversial today, that aphasias and apraxias (complex disturbances in speech and learned hand-and-arm movements that are common symptoms in patients with brain damage) may represent an impairment in high-level movement programming and not a deficit in the semantic or symbolic aspects of language and gesture. Even more radically, she proposed that the left side of the brain may be specifically adapted for this type of motor control, explaining why the control of speech is typically mediated by the left hemisphere. Her ideas on language and its evolution were outlined in her book, Neuromotor Mechanisms in Human Communication (Oxford Press, 1993).
Doreen Kimura was a Fellow of Royal Society of Canada, Canada Psychological Association (Distinguished Contributions to Science award 1985), American Psychological Society. International Neuropsychological Symposium.
Doreen Kimura described herself as independent, non-conformist, self-assured.
Her mentors were Donald O. Hebb and Brenda Milner, McGill psychology professors who taught her to think of behaviour in terms of the nervous system.
A forceful and colorful personality with strongly held opinions, Doreen Kimura was a formidable proponent of her causes, known affectionately even by friends as "The Dragon Lady.”
Physical Characteristics: Doreen’s many achievements were all the more remarkable when one considers she lived with daily chronic pain for several decades, which she bore stoically.
Doreen Kimura had one child - daughter Charlotte Thistle Archer (formerly Vanderwolf), and a granddaughter Ella Archer.