Navigation Links
Penn's Positive Psychology Center awards $2.9 million for research

The Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the John Templeton Foundation have announced the recipients of the 2010 Templeton Positive Neuroscience Awards, $2.9 million given to 15 new research projects at the intersection of neuroscience and positive psychology.

The winning projects explore a range of topics including how the brain enables humans to flourish, the biological bases of altruism and the effects of positive interventions on the brain.

"Research has shown that positive emotions and interventions can bolster health, achievement and resilience and can buffer against depression and anxiety," said Martin E. P. Seligman, director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center. "And while considerable research in neuroscience has focused on disease, dysfunction and the harmful effects of stress and trauma, very little is known about the neural mechanisms of human flourishing. Creating this network of positive neuroscience researchers will change that."

The 15 winning proposals represent 24 researchers and were selected from 190 submissions. The Awards identify the winning researchers as future leaders in the new field of positive neuroscience.

The Positive Neuroscience Project was established in 2008 by Seligman with a $5.8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Seligman founded the quickly growing field of Positive Psychology in 1998 based on the idea that what is good in life is as worthy of scientific study as what is disabling in life.

Winners were selected by the Positive Neuroscience Steering Committee, comprised of psychologists, neuroscientists and fellow researchers from Stony Brook University, Harvard University, the University of Colorado, the John Templeton Foundation, Emory University, Ohio State University and Penn.

Winning studies include:

  • Abigail Marsh, assistant professor of psychology at Georgetown University, will receive $180,000 to study neural functioning of heroically altruistic people, such as those who donate a kidney to save the life of a stranger. Marsh has shown that sensitivity to others' fearful facial expressions predicts altruism better than gender, mood, self-reported empathy or general sensitivity.

  • James K. Rilling, associate professor of anthropology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory, and Richmond R. Thompson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bowdoin College, will receive $200,000 to study why some fathers are better parents than others. Children with nurturing and playful fathers are more likely to be popular with peers and teachers, be fair and generous and have higher IQs than kids with absent fathers.

  • Kateri McRae and Iris Mauss, assistant professors of psychology at the University of Denver, will receive $180,000 to study the neural bases of resilience. Extreme stress cripples some people, while others bounce back and some even thrive due to post traumatic growth. Research shows that positive emotions and flexible thinking are hallmarks of resilience and can be developed through training and therapy.

  • Elena Antonova from King's College London has received $180,000 to study how meditation affects sensory processing in the brain. Human brains filter the barrage of information flowing into our bodies through our senses. We wouldn't be able to notice anything if we noticed everything, so our brains help us quickly habituate to repeated signals, filtering most information under the radar of attention. Experienced meditators do not habituate to stimuli like most of us, nor do people with schizophrenia.

  • Alon Chen and Elad Schneidman from Weizmann Institute of Science will receive $200,000 to study the warm glow of companionship at the molecular level. Positive social interactions make us happier and healthier and even buffer us against ailments including heart disease and depression.

  • Britta Hlzel and Mohammed Milad from Harvard Medical School will use $200,000 to find out if meditation helps people conquer their fears. Mindfulness meditation impacts the structure and function of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala, brain regions that are also part of the neural circuits critical for deactivating conditioned fears.

  • Psyche Loui from Harvard Medical School was awarded $180,000 to study how the brain enables artistic genius. Loui will study neural connectivity in musicians with absolute pitch and people with synesthesia to better understand supernormal perception.

  • Jason Mitchell and Jamil Zaki from Harvard will study the relationship between doing good and feeling good and how both can be amplified within and between people. Sharing happiness may double your pleasure.

  • India Morrison from the University of Gothenburg will study how pleasurable touch affects the way we understand and relate to others. Touch is more than skin deep because skin is a social and emotional organ. Touch carries affective meaning, enhances social bonding and shapes our beliefs about what it feels like to be in another person's skin. Morrison will focus on a recently discovered type of nerve fiber that transmits the pleasure of gentle touch, and she will examine a people with a rare genetic mutation resulting in a severe reduction of those nerve fibers.

  • Stephanie D. Preston from the University of Michigan and Tony W. Buchanan from St. Louis University will study the neural differences between sensing that someone is in pain or danger and taking action to help them. Empathy is bodily response. Research shows that, when people feel another's pain psychologically, they also resonate physically in heart rate, facial muscles, skin response, neural activity and pupil dilation. Even so, people frequently fail to help those in need and sometimes even cause their distress.

  • Laurie Santos from Yale University will investigate how altruism evolved in the brain. Positive Psychology research has shown that good deeds lead to great pleasure. Altruistic actions can increase happiness even more than beneficial but selfish actions. Santos will work with two primate species, rhesus macaques and capuchin monkeys, to find out if they also experience prosocial actions as inherently rewarding.

  • William Cunningham from Ohio State University and Alexander Todorov from Princeton University will study how people's social goals influence how their brain processes important social stimuli.

  • Tor Wager and Sona Dimidjian from the University of Colorado will study how compassionate thinking impacts brain function and leads to more caring behavior. The researchers will conduct a four-week compassion meditation training and identify neural processes that support positive thoughts and affiliation with others.

  • Thalia Wheatley from Dartmouth College will study how different brain regions process emotion and support social intelligence. People see emotion in movement and hear emotion in music. She will study how different neural regions work together to process complex but universally understood emotion and how that relates to empathy and social skill.

  • Adam Anderson from the University of Toronto will study the neural and genetic bases of positivity and resilience. Anderson will examine how specific genes influence dopamine-related brain functions and behaviors and how that supports positive emotion, creative problem solving and recovery.


Contact: Jordan Reese
University of Pennsylvania

Related medicine news :

1. University of Pennsylvania: Contrary to popular models, sugar is not burned by self-control tasks
2. Pennsylvania's Newest Power Companies Right in Your Neighbor's Back Yard
3. Harmony Information Systems to Host Free Webcast: Learn How Vermont and Pennsylvania Are Taking Control of Medicaid Waivers Management
4. Health Secretary Encourages Pennsylvanians to Learn the ABCs of Controlling Diabetes
5. Pennsylvania Attorney General Corbett Will File Lawsuit to Block Health Care Reform Legislation
6. Abington Surgeon First in Pennsylvania to Implant Investigative Device to Treat Leg Pain Caused by Spinal Stenosis
7. Department of Public Welfare Recognizes Contributions of Pennsylvanians with Developmental Disabilities
8. Pennsylvania to Observe Problem Gambling Awareness Week; Remind Residents of Available Counseling and Treatment Services
9. Galfand Berger Wins Important Case for Injured Workers in Pennsylvania
10. Pew Report: Pennsylvania Failing to Address Childrens Dental Health Crisis
11. Statewide Poll: Pennsylvania Must Adequately Fund Senior Care Services
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Lakeview Health, a Jacksonville-based drug and ... sobriety and show through pictures what a positive difference it makes. The social ... the hashtag #FacesOfGratitude on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Short stories ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... The McHenry County ... recent successful appellate decision obtained by Attorneys Francisco J. Botto and Alex C. Wimmer. ... Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, 2015 IL App (2d) 130884WC. , According to court documents, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Beddit® has launched a new Android ... The new app features a more intuitive SleepScore™ that rates sleep quality on a ... The SleepScore is created by a proprietary algorithm. Beddit analyzes the data to provide ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) ... below 10,000 for the first time since 2011. In 2014, there were 9,967 fatalities ... released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 32,675 people were killed in ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Privately owned Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization ... current state of the art research, development and manufacturing facility outside of Fort ... capacity as well as to support its clients’ growing research and development and ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 On Tuesday, November 24, ... trial against Wright Medical Technology, Inc. for product ... metal-on-metal hip implant device, awarded $11 million in ... week trial and three days of deliberations, the ... was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, and that ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Kitov Pharma ... KTOV), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of ... conditions, today announced the closing of its previously announced ... ADSs ), each representing 20 ordinary shares of the ... The ADSs and warrants were issued in a fixed ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 25, 2015  Today AVACEN Medical announced the issue of ... Thermal Energy Including Blood Viscosity Adjustment ". This patent shields the company,s AVACEN 100 dry heat ... Treatment Method. Photo - ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: