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California Neuroscientist's Work on Emotion and Decision-Making Earns Grawemeyer Psychology Award

A California expert on how emotions affect decision-making is the recipient of the 2014 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology from the University of Louisville.Antonio Damasio is a professor of neuroscience and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California.His somatic marker hypothesis stems from noting that people with some brain injuries had trouble making decisions although their intellects were intact.UofL says Damasio’s suggestion that brain processes to evaluate choices involved emotions as well as rational thinking countered the dominant theories at the time.But since then, his work has influenced several the study of drug addiction, education and law.Damasio was traveling in Europe and unavailable for comment this week. He also wrote the 2010 book “Self Comes to Mind,” which explores consciousness. In 2011, he gave a TED talk on the subject.“We are not passive exhibitors of visual or auditory or tactile images. We have selves," he said. "We have a ‘me’ that is automatically present in our minds right now. We own our minds.”Watch the whole thing here:Damasio also collaborated with composer Bruce Adolphe for a multifaceted piece based on (and titled) "Self Comes to Mind." Yo-Yo Ma performed the premiere.Damasio gets a $100,000 for the Grawemeyer award. Winners in music composition, world order, education and religion are being announced this week.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

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