Antonio Damasio to Receive Prince of Asturias Prize

Dr. Antonio Damasio
© Christian Steiner

"His contributions have had a major influence on our understanding of the neural bases of decision-making, emotions, language and memory," the award citation states. Through research papers and acclaimed books such as "Descartes' Error," recently reissued in a 10th anniversary edition, Damasio has shown that emotions play a crucial role in rational thought and decision-making.

His work undercut a century-old movement in neuroscience that considered feelings irrelevant to the study of reason. He belongs to a small group of "most cited researchers" in neuroscience as tracked by the Institute of Scientific Research.

Joseph Aoun, dean of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said: "The Prince of Asturias Award is extremely prestigious and acknowledges scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work of international scope. We are extremely proud to have a scientist of Antonio's caliber as part of USC College's research enterprise."

Damasio's institute at USC will direct interdisciplinary research focusing on the connections between emotion, decision-making and creativity. "The critical part of the activity of the institute is going deeper in the understanding of how emotions and reason interact to permit decision-making, both in the personal space and in the public space," Damasio said.

Fundamental to the Damasios' research is their conviction that a proper understanding of emotion is crucial to one's development as a human being. Maturity requires a successful negotiation between reason, knowledge and the emotional pressures in everyday life, Antonio Damasio said. "In order to achieve what is in fact a very, very difficult accommodation, the more we know about how the process works in the first place, the more we are likely to succeed."; Source: University of Southern California