Renowned Neuroscientist Featured at Baylor Lecture

April 22, 2009

by Lauren Venegas, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Dr. Antoine Bechara, one of the world's foremost neuroscientists and leader in research on decision-making, will present a lecture at Baylor University titled, "Decision-making, Impulse Control and the Willpower to Resist Drugs: A Neural Perspective," at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in the Baylor Sciences Building, room B.110. The lecture is part of the Psychology and Neuroscience Colloquium and is free and open to the public.

Bechara is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Southern California, Brain and Creativity Institute. He is a leader in research on decision-making and has published research on alcohol, methamphetamine and nicotine dependence, as well as pathological gambling and other topics. The lecture will mainly focus on neural mechanisms of addictive behaviors.

"My research focuses on exploration of the anatomical and neurotransmitter systems involved in reasoning and decision-making, usually referred to as 'executive functions,' which reside in that front area of the brain (right above our eyes) called the frontal lobes," said Bechara. "The hope is that such knowledge can lead to the development of pharmacotherapies that help improve the rehabilitation of many patients who suffer from disturbances of executive function caused by head injury, stroke or surgical ablation of tumors. These patients usually present with severe impairments in decision-making, in spite of otherwise largely preserved intellect."

Bechara's honors, awards and distinctions include:

• M1 Teacher of the Year Award, Medical Students, University of Iowa, 1997.

• M1 Teacher of the Year Award Nominee, Medical Students, University of Iowa, 1996.

• College of Medicine Commencement Speaker Nominee, 1999.

• MRC Centennial Award, Medical Research Council of Canada, 1994-1997.

• McDonnell-Pew Award in Cognitive Neuroscience, James S. McDonnell Foundation, 1992-1995.

• MRC Fellowship Award, Medical Research Council of Canada, 1991-1994.

• Playfair McMurich Award, University of Toronto, 1990.

• MRC Graduate Award, Medical Research Council of Canada, 1987-1991.

Bechara's research has received national and international attention: The ISI web of knowledge reveals over 7,500 documents that cite Berchera's work, and also ranks him in the top 400 scientists in the world in terms of highly cited researchers in the field of neuroscience and behavior. He has been quoted in several newspapers and magazines on matters related to brain mechanisms of decision-making, addiction, criminal behaviors and investing decisions.

For more information, contact the department of psychology and neuroscience at (254) 710-2961.

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