Damasio at the World Science Festival in 2008
|Born||February 25, 1944
|Nationality||U.S. and Portuguese|
|Institutions||University of Southern California|
|Alma mater||University of Lisbon|
Antonio Damasio (United States and Portugal) is a University Professor and David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California (where he also heads the Brain and Creativity Institute), an Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute, and the author of several books describing his scientific thinking. "As a leading neuroscientist, Damasio has dared to speculate on neurobiological data, and has offered a theory about the relationship between human emotions, human rationality, and the underlying biology."
Prior to joining USC in 2005, Damasio was M.W. Van Allen Professor and Head of Neurology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Life and work
|Mind and brain portal|
Damasio studied medicine at the University of Lisbon Medical School, where he also did his neurological residency and completed his doctorate. For part of his studies he researched behavioral neurology under the supervision of the Norman Geschwind of the Aphasia Research Center in Boston.
Damasio's main field is neurobiology, especially neural systems which subserve emotion, decision-making, memory, language and consciousness. Damasio believes that emotions play a critical role in high-level cognition—an idea counter to dominant 20th-century views in psychology, neuroscience and philosophy.
Damasio formulated the somatic marker hypothesis, a theory about how emotions and their biological underpinnings are involved in decision-making (both positively and negatively, and often non-consciously). Emotions provide the scaffolding for the construction of social cognition and are required for the self processes which undergird consciousness. "Damasio provides a contemporary scientific validation of the linkage between feelings and the body by highlighting the connection between mind and nerve cells...this personalized embodiment of mind."
The somatic marker hypothesis has inspired many neuroscience experiments carried out in laboratories in the U.S. and Europe, and has had a major impact in contemporary science and philosophy. Damasio has been named by the Institute of Scientific Information as one of the most highly cited researchers in the past decade). Current work on the biology of moral decisions, neuro-economics, social communication, and drug-addiction, has been strongly influenced by Damasio's hypothesis.
Damasio also proposed that emotions are part of homeostatic regulation and are rooted in reward/punishment mechanisms. He recovered James' perspective on feelings as a read-out of body states, but expanded it with an "as-if-body-loop" device which allows for the substrate of feelings to be simulated rather than actual (foreshadowing the simulation process later uncovered by mirror neurons). He demonstrated experimentally that the insular cortex is a critical platform for feelings, a finding that has been widely replicated, and he uncovered cortical and subcortical induction sites for human emotions, e.g. in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and amygdala. He also demonstrated that while the insular cortex plays a major role in feelings, it is not necessary for feelings to occur, suggesting that brain stem structures play a basic role in the feeling process.
He has continued to investigate the neural basis of feelings and demonstrated that although the insular cortex is a major substrate for this process it is not exclusive, suggesting that brain stem nuclei are critical platforms as well. He regards feelings as the necessary foundation of sentience.
In another development, Damasio proposed that the cortical architecture on which learning and recall depend involves multiple, hierarchically organized loops of axonal projections that converge on certain nodes out of which projections diverge to the points of origin of convergence (the "convergence-divergence framework"). This architecture is applicable to the understanding of memory processes and of aspects of consciousness related to the access of mental contents.
In The Feeling of What Happens, Damasio laid the foundations of the "enchainment of precedences": “the nonconscious neural signaling of an individual organism begets the protoself which permits core self and core consciousness, which allow for an autobiographical self, which permits extended consciousness. At the end of the chain, extended consciousness permits conscience. 
Damasio's research depended significantly on establishing the modern human lesion method, an enterprise made possible by Hanna Damasio's structural neuroimaging/neuroanatomy work complemented by experimental neuroanatomy (with Gary Van Hoesen and Josef Parvizi), experimental neuropsychology (with Antoine Bechara, Ralph Adolphs, and Dan Tranel) and functional neuroimaging (with Kaspar Meyer, Jonas Kaplan, and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang). The experimental neuroanatomy work with Van Hoesen and Bradley Hyman led to the discovery of the disconnection of the hippocampus caused by neurofibrillary tangles in the entophinal cortex of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Damasio's books deal with the relationship between emotions and feelings, and what their brain substrates. His 1994 book, Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, won the Science et Vie prize, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and is translated in over 30 languages. It is regarded as one of the most influential books of the past two decades. His second book, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, was named as one of the ten best books of 2001 by the New York Times Book Review, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and has over 30 foreign editions. Damasio's Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, was published in 2003. In it, Damasio suggested that Spinoza's thinking foreshadowed discoveries in biology and neuroscience views on the mind-body problem. Spinoza was a protobiologist. His latest book is Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. In it Damasio suggests that the self is the key to conscious minds and that feelings, from the kind he designates as primordial to the well-known feelings of emotion, are the basic elements in the construction of the protoself and core self. The book received the Corinne International Book Prize.
Damasio is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is the recipient of several prizes, amongst them the Grawemeyer Award, Prince of Asturias Award in Science and Technology and the Beaumont Medal from the American Medical Association, as well as honorary degrees from the Universities of Aachen, Copenhagen, Leiden, Barcelona, Coimbra, Leuven and numerous others.
He says he writes in the belief that "scientific knowledge can be a pillar to help humans endure and prevail."
He is married to Hanna Damasio, a collaborator and frequent co-author.
- Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Putnam, 1994; revised Penguin edition, 2005
- The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, Harcourt, 1999
- Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, Harcourt, 2003
- Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, Pantheon, 2010
- Damasio A, Carvalho G.B. The nature of feelings: evolutionary and neurobiological origins" Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14, 143-152 (February, 2013) PubMed doi:10.1038 /nrn3403
- Damasio A, Damasio H, Tranel D. (2012). "Persistence of feelings and sentience after bilateral damage of the insula.". Cerebral Cortex. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs077.
- Feinstein J, Adolphs R, Damasio A, Tranel D. (2011). "The human amygdala and the induction and experience of fear.". Current Biology 21: 1–5.
- Meyer K, Kaplan JT, Essex R, Damasio H, Damasio A. (2011). "Seeing touch is correlated with content-specific activity in primary somatosensory cortex.". Cerebral Cortex 21: 2113–2121.
- Meyer K, Kaplan JT, Essex R, Webber C, Damasio H, Damasio A. (2010). "Predicting visual stimuli based on activity in auditory cortices.". Nature Neuroscience 13 (6): 667–668.
- Meyer K, Damasio A. (2009). "Convergence and divergence in a neural architecture for recognition and memory.". Trends in Neurosciences 32 (7): 376–382. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2009.04.002. PMID 19520438.
- Immordino-Yang MH, McColl A, Damasio H, Damasio A. (2009). "Neural correlates of admiration and compassion.". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106 (19): 8021–8026.
- Damasio A, Meyer K. (2008). "Behind the looking glass.". Nature 454: 167–168.
- Parvizi J, Van Hoesen G, Buckwalter J, Damasio A. (2006). "Neural connections of the posteromedial cortex in the macaque: Implications for the understanding of the neural basis of consciousness.". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103 (5): 1563–1568.
- Shiv B, Lowenstein G, Bechara A, Damasio H, Damasio A. (2005). "Investment behavior and the negative side of emotion.". Psychological Sciences 16: 435–439.
- Parvizi J, Damasio AR. (2003). "Neuroanatomical correlates of brainstem coma". Brain 126: 1524–1536.
- Parvizi J, Damasio AR. (2001). "Consciousness and the brainstem". Cognition 79: 135–160.
- Damasio AR, Grabowski TJ, Bechara A, Damasio H, Ponto LLB, Parvizi J, Hichwa RD. (2000). "Subcortical and cortical brain activity during the feeling of self-generated emotions.". Nature Neuroscience 3: 1049–1056.
- Damasio AR. (1999). "How the brain creates the mind.". Scientific American 281: 74–79.
- Damasio AR. (1998). "Investigating the biology of consciousness.". Transactions of the Royal Society(London) 353: 1879–1882.
- Bechara A, Damasio H, Tranel D, Damasio AR. (1997). "Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy.". Science 275: 1293–1294.
- Damasio AR. (1996). "The somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex.". Transactions of the Royal Society(London) 351: 1413–1420.
- Bechara A, Damasio AR, Damasio H, Anderson S. (1994). "Insensitivity to future consequences following damage to human prefrontal cortex.". Cognition. 50: 7–15.
- Adolphs R, Tranel D, Damasio AR. (1994). "Impaired recognition of emotion in facial expressions following bilateral damage to the human amygdala.". Nature 372: 669–672.
- Damasio AR, Tranel D. (1993). "Nouns and verbs are retrieved with differently distributed neural systems.". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 90: 4957–4960.
- Damasio A, Tranel D, Damasio H. (1990). "Face agnosia and the neural substrates of memory.". Annual Review of Neuroscience 13: 89–109.
- Damásio AR. (1989). "Time-locked multiregional retroactivation: A systems level proposal for the neural substrates of recall and recognition.". Cognition 33: 25–62.
- Tranel D and Damasio A. (1985). "Knowledge without awareness: An autonomic index of facial recognition by prosopagnosics.". Science. 228(21): 1453–1454.
- Hyman B, Van Hoesen GW, Damasio A, Barnes C. (1984). "Alzheimer's disease: Cell-specific pathology isolates the hippocampal formation.". Science 225: 1168–1170.
- Damasio A and Geschwind N: (1984). "The neural basis of language.". Annual Review of Neuroscience 7: 127–147.
- Anderson SW, Bechara A, Damasio H, Tranel D, Damasio AR. "Impairment of social and moral behaviour related to early damage in human prefrontal cortex.". Nature Neuroscience: 1032–1037.
- Ole Kuhl, Musical Semantics (2008) p. 122
- Damasio AR. The somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex. Transactions of the Royal Society. (London). 351:1413-1420. 1996.
- Lara Trout, The Politics of Survival (2010) p. 74
- Damasio AR, Grabowski TJ, Bechara A, Damasio H, Ponto LLB, Parvizi J, Hichwa RD. Subcortical and cortical brain activity during the feeling of self-generated emotions" Nature Neuroscience 3:1049-1056. 2000
- Damasio A, Damasio H, Tranel D. Persistence of feelings and sentience after bilateral damage of the insula. Cerebral Cortex. 2012. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhs077
- Damasio A, Damasio H, and Tranel, Cerebral Cortex, 2012
- Damasio AR. Time-locked multiregional retroactivation: a systems level proposal for the neural substrates of recall and recognition" Cognition 33:25-62. 1989
- Damasio, Antonio (1999). The Feeling of What Happens. Harcourt. ISBN 0-15-100369-6.
- Hyman B, Van Hoesen GW, Damasio A, Barnes C. Alzheimer's disease: cell-specific pathology isolates the hippocampal formation" Science 225:1168-1170. 1984
- In January 2010, Sciences Humaines named it one of the 20 books that changed the vision of the world. The book has been cited over 13,000 times
- Damasio, Antonio. "Self Comes to Mind".
- Damasio, Antonio. "USC faculty website".
- Antonio R. Damasio, Descartes' Error (New York 1994) p. 252
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Antonio Damasio.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: António Damásio|
- Audio of Antonio Damasio's 2003 lecture, "Emotion, Feeling, and Social Behavior: The Brain Perspective" at Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities
- Ideas of Antonio Damasio – JRSM book review