Using brain-imaging technologies, Greg Berns, MD, PhD, studies human motivation and decision making by focusing on neuroeconomics, a blend of neuroscience, economics and psychology.
Berns, the Emory distinguished professor of neuroeconomics and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, recently launched the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory. The center focuses on how the biology of the brain influences decision making in politics, policy and business.
"For decades, neuroscientists, psychologists and economists have studied human decision making from different perspectives," says Berns. "Although each has approached the problem with different theories and techniques, the basic question cuts across many fields: how do humans balance individual self-interest against societal good? Sometimes groups make good decisions, but often times groups behave worse than any of its members should.
"We all live in groups," says Berns. "Sometimes groups make good decisions, but often times groups behave worse than any of its members should. This new center will approach the problem
of collective decision making from an entirely new perspective, but studying how the human brain functions in groups."
Berns is the author of Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment (Henry Holt & Co., 2005) and the forthcoming Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently (Harvard Business School Press, 2008).
Berns graduated cum laude in physics from Princeton University, received a PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of California, Davis, and an MD from the University of California, San Diego, He completed a psychiatry residency at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh. He joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in 1998. Current projects include the biology of adolescent decision making and the effects of peer pressure on risk attitudes.
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