The Honda Foundation of Japan has announced that its annual Honda Prize, one of the most important international awards for scientific achievement, will go to Antonio Damasio, the David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC.
Damasio, the sole recipient of this year's honor, will become the 31st laureate of the Honda prize at an award ceremony to be held Nov. 17 at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. In addition to a diploma and medal, the prize carries an award of 10 million yen (approximately $100,000).
In its citation, the Honda Foundation said Damasio was chosen "for his pioneering efforts and remarkable contributions in the world of neuroscience."
Specifically, the foundation recognized Damasio for his influential Somatic Marker Hypothesis, which proposes a central role for emotion in decision-making through a process in which images involved in the reasoning process are tagged with "somatic markers," or emotion-related signals, related to past experiences. Such markers constitute a sort of weighted average, increasing the desirability of certain images and decreasing the appeal of others. Damasio's hypothesis provided an explanation for how emotions participate in reasoning and why they are necessary for good decision-making.
Damasio developed his theory from case studies of neurological patients with damage in brain regions related to emotion, such as the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. He found that such defects of judgment and inappropriate social behavior were caused by patients' inability to respond emotionally to the content of their thoughts. The hypothesis subsequently was tested with psychophysiological, cognitive and functional imaging techniques.
Damasio's other work on the neural basis of the emotions led him to propose that the brain's insula was the cortical platform for the processing of emotional feelings, a hypothesis that has been widely confi
|Contact: Carl Marziali|
University of Southern California