Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1969
Office: McCoy Hall
Phone: (509) 335-5803
Our present research is devoted to the analysis of the neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms of emotional behaviors (in the emerging fields of affective and social neurosciences), with a focus on understanding how separation responses, social bonding, social play-joy, fear, anticipatory processes, and drug craving are organized in the brain, especially with reference to psychiatric disorders and drug addiction. Past work has been supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. We have authored some 300 scientific articles that deal with basic physiological mechanisms of motivated behavior, including editorship on a multi-volume Handbook of the Hypothalamus and of Emotions and Psychopathology and most recently Textbook of Biological Psychiatry (Wiley, 2004). My textbook Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Oxford, 1998), has helped open a new field of inquiry which attempts to illuminate the affective infrastructure of the mammalian brain. Our ongoing working assumption is that all of consciousness was built on affective foundations in brain evolution.
Our overall research orientation is that a detailed understanding of basic emotional systems at the neural level will highlight the basic sources of human values and the nature and genesis of human emotional disorders. The aim of our research is to understand the instinctual operating systems of the brain that generate emotionality. To that end, we conduct research on the brain mechanisms of fear, anger, separation distress (panic), investigatory processes an anticipatory eagerness, as well as rough-and-tumble play. Approaches used are electrical brain stimulation, psycho-pharmacology, brain lesions and various neuroanatomical approaches. We are interested in relating this knowledge to clinical issues, especially therapies based on our emerging understanding of how brain neuropeptide systems regulate emotional feelings. We have generated some new ideas for the treatment of autism, and have developed new animal models which may be useful for the analysis of the brain emotional processes that lead to depressive disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD). Many of the findings from animal models are ready to be evaluated in human psychological research and therapeutic practice. Other interests include brain control of eating and energy balance regulation, and the functions of dreaming and sleep. Our aim is to conduct behavioral brain research that has the potential to improve human and animal emotional well-being.