Neuroscientist Shlomo Bentin killed in bike accident

Shlomo Bentin, an Israeli cognitive neuroscientist, who died in a bicycle accident on Friday. Photo: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Friday’s bicycle accident on Bancroft Way resulted in the death of 65-year-old Shlomo Bentin, a globally recognized expert in cognitive neuropsychology, who was in Berkeley as a guest lecturer at the university.

Bentin was injured in an apparent collision between his bicycle and a dump truck on Bancroft, just west of Fulton, at 3:38 p.m. on Friday. He was taken by ambulance to Highland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Berkeley police are still investigating the accident.

Bentin received the prestigious Israel Prize on Israel Independence Day this April, in a ceremony attended by Israel’s president, prime minister, Supreme Court president and other national leaders. The prize cited Bentin’s “important scientific contributions to the field of psychology and the science of neuropsychology in particular”. 

Bentin, who was Professor in the Department of Psychology and a member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, contributed to the study of the functional differences of the brain’s hemispheres, and was considered one of the leading researchers of reading in Hebrew. His work had “vastly influenced the evolution of reading instruction in Israel,” according to the Israel Prize Committee.

Bentin was also a leading figure in studying the cognitive mechanisms that enable humans to recognize faces. In the 1990s, he discovered an electrical signal involved in the face recognition mechanism in the brain. The signal is considered the main electrophysiological measure of face recognition. Bentin showed that this was a unique identification process that is different to other object recognition processes.

Bentin was born in Romania in 1946 and immigrated to Israel with his family when he was 12-years old. He is survived by his wife, Miri, and three children.

Cyclist in accident involving a dump truck [07.13.12]

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  • Anonymous

    And in related news, the city council is getting ready to vote on whether the roughly $3.8 million savings from refinancing our capital projects bonds should be used for employee benefits instead of the infrastructure budget:

  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    This city faces a fundamental choice – whether we will pay ridiculous salaries to our meter maids and bureaucrats or invest in our infrastructure and save lives.   We can either choose corruption of the public process by government unions (against whom even FDR spoke out) or we can choose to build roads, schools, and take care of our citizens, but we cannot have both. Certainly firefighters, police officers and teachers deserve to be compensated fairly for their hard work – but do we really need to be paying meter maids $55,000 per year, not to mention all the administrators and bureaucrats making far more? 

    The death of this man was no accident as it was 100% preventable had the City invested properly in infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.  The fact that Berkeley is one of the most dangerous cities in California to be a pedestrian or a cyclist is shameful and is a direct product of the corruption of our political process by government unions.  Mayor Tom Bates as well as the other cronies on the City Council are directly responsible for this man’s death, as they have consistently chosen to spend money on their unionized buddies instead of investing in real infrastructure.  The fact is that Berkeley is one of the most dangerous places in the East Bay to be a cyclist or a pedestrian is not an accident, but rather the product of your morally bankrupt decisions, year after year.

    The City needs to file bankruptcy, get rid of the ridiculous debts it owes for fraudulent union contracts, and start using tax dollars to actually provide real services and real benefits to its citizens.  The fact is that it will – it’s absolutely inevitable that it will – the question is only how many more people will have to die before that happens.  

    Enough is enough.  It’s time to demand real accountability and real change. 

  • BBnet3000

    I enjoy riding down it in a thrill-seeking kind of way, but Bancroft is dangerous.

    I would take Channing except:
    1) the pavement is awful, and downhill at a decent speed its really rough
    2) If youre coming from Sproul Plaza, theres no way to get to Channing as Telegraph is one way!

  • The Sharkey

    When did you get so conservative, Vladislav?

    I don’t disagree with you, at all, but that’s some really strong stuff there.

  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    There is nothing “conservative” about seeking financial accountability and a truly functional government.  Corporate corruption and union corruption of government produce exactly the same dysfunction – yet for some reason, liberal folk seem to look the other way on the second. 

  • The Sharkey

    Again, I don’t disagree. But in my experience anyone in Berkeley who suggests that public employee Unions might ever be anything less than 100% perfect usually gets shouted down as being a fascist.

    Where I used to live a “Progressive” was someone who was a social liberal but wanted fiscal responsibility, but that label apparently means something totally different here.

  • Can I make a suggestion for commenters? Comments on the state of roads could be added to the story about the accident itself: It would be nice to keep this space for anyone that might wish to provide a tribute to Shlomo Bentin, without getting involved in local Berkeley issues. 

  • Berkeleyisalandmine

    Bicyclists in Berkeley need to pay more attention to their surroundings, quit riding on sidewalks/riding against traffic in the wrong lane. This goes on every day.  Pedestrians are just as bad (wandering in front of traffic, not paying any attention to the fact that the light turned green)

  • Anonymous

     You’re right.  Sorry for posting that leading comment about the bond refinancing.

  • Greg Merritt


    Also, motorists in Berkeley must responsibly ensure that they use their mirrors, turn their heads, signal, avoid distractions, and expect there to be many other road users.

    I cycle in Berkeley daily, and once or twice a week a motorist sheepishly apologizes to me after making a careless maneuver. Collectively, we all have room for improvement.

  • Apthorp

    I passed by the scene at approximately 4:40 p.m.,Friday. I did not observe a dump truck. I observed a large tractor trailer, similar to those employed in large earth/gravel/debris transport. The driver’s seat in the tractor’s cab sits about 10-12 above the roadway-not hard to imagine a collision between this multiton vehicle and a bicyclist going unnoticed by the driver.

  • I passed by at 4:50, and the truck that was stopped with caution tape around it was a dump

  • Gentle reminder: As per Lance’s earlier comment, let’s reserve space on this story for comments on Professor Bentin. If you would like to comment on the accident, the state of the roads etc, please feel free to do so on our previous story on the accident:

  • Greg Merritt

    The more carefully and appropriately the multiton vehicle driver operates the vehicle, the harder it is to imagine.  The less carefully and less appropriately the multiton vehicle driver operates the vehicle, the easier it is to imagine.

  • Jacob Lynn

    I think it would be a better world if car drivers were responsible (legally and socially) for the unjury and death they cause. We don’t allow citizens to e.g. shoot guns in a public setting. Admittedly the analogy is imperfect — obviously the automobile provides real benefits to society — but the level of danger they pose to people on foot is not entirely dissimilar.

  • 4Eenie

    My deepest condolences to Shlomo Bentin’s family and friends.

  • Guest

    This is a very large loss to a community that defines itself across nations. My sincere condolences to the Bentin family and all of Shlomo’s collaborators, colleagues, and students.

  • berkopinionator

    The football stadium should be named in honor of the memory of Shlomo Bentin.  

  • Connie

     As a person who rides a bike, walks, and drives in Berkeley I have to say that drivers are just as bad.  Some car drivers don’t think a stop sign is for stopping, or if they stop they stop across the crosswalk or stop line so that you can’t tell that they really plan to stop.  On my bike, the last couple of bad encounters I’ve had at stop signs have been with other bikes who don’t slow down at all! 

  • PragmaticProgressive

    I identify strongly with your definition.

  • scientists

    This is very said news. That said, it is false that Bentin discovered the “face potential”. It was discovered by Jeffreys DA in the UK. Others, including Bentin, followed up on that discovery. This is just to set the record straight on the science.

  • Zack

    The problem with your “argument” is that there’s no evidence this man was doing any of those things.  How was he hit by a dump truck if he was riding on the sidewalk?  Quit acting like cyclists and pedestrians are the only ones doing something wrong.  I agree some of them are, but so are drivers and the other two aren’t operating multi-thousand pound vehicles.  Your comment in this context makes absolutely no sense and only shows your heartlessness and lack of compassion.  

  • Another reminder: Can we please reserve space on this story for comments on Professor Bentin. If you would like to comment on the accident, the state of the roads etc, please feel free to do so on our previous story on the accident:…

  • jey

    Who was The driver? Iranian may be?
    Bentin is not Trayvon Martin but stil human

  • .thanks for sharing

  • Genea Barnes

    On the heels of Shlomo Bentin’s death, I feel like it is an important time to talk about bicycle safety and draw attention to people trying to make a difference.  I am thoroughly impressed with you Bike Accident Tracker.  Such a great tool to help the community determine where we need to make the roads safer for cyclists. More attention needs to be paid to the Ghost Bike movement, these memorials get people to asking questions, and are a reminder to keep each other safe.  I am currently working on a photo project entitled The Ghost Bike Project.  I am doing a fundraiser on kickstarter to fund a trip to finish the shooting for this project.  The Ghost Bike Movement sends a message, and I am so very glad that one has been installed at the site of this tragedy.  Many are removed after just a short span of time, I truly hope this one remains as a reminder for quite some time.

  • Jason

    That was uncalled for!