Skip to main content

O'Keefe, John

John O'Keefe, 1939–, British-American neuroscientist, b. New York, N.Y., Ph.D. McGill Univ., 1967. O'Keefe has spent his entire career at University College London, beginning as a postdoctoral fellow in 1967 and becoming a professor in 1987; he was a pioneer in the study of the hippocampus region in the brain. In 2014 he was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Edvard and May-Britt Moser for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain. O'Keefe, who was awarded half of the prize, discovered the first element in this positioning system in rats in 1971. He identified nerve cells in the hippocampus region of the brain that were always activated when a rat was at certain locations in maze. O'Keefe's work, which was done when the hippocampus was very poorly understood, was not initially widely recognized. The place cells he identified, combined with the grid cells later identified by the Mosers, allow animals to navigate complex environments through the establishment of mental maps.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"O'Keefe, John." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 23 Jan. 2019 <>.

"O'Keefe, John." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (January 23, 2019).

"O'Keefe, John." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.