WSU researcher links human, animal emotions
Seattle-Washington State University researcher Jaak Panksepp believes that understanding animal behavior could one day bring relief to millions of people around the globe who suffer from psychological disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and autism.
Panksepp, who joined the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006 as the Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-being Science, has spent most of his career researching affective neuroscience, the study of the basic processes that create and control moods, feelings and attitudes in both people and animals.
He will discuss his research in “Achieving Psychological Well-being: Neurochemistry May Hold the Key” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at The Rainier Club, 840 4th Ave., Seattle. Tickets are $30 per person and include lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m., with registration to begin at 11:30 a.m.
To reserve a spot, visit http://www.wsu.edu/theinnovators or call toll free, (877) 978-3868. Registration will continue until capacity is reached.
More than 30 years ago, Panksepp began mapping the neural pathways for grief by identifying brain areas and chemistries that control crying when young guinea pigs or birds are left alone for a short time. Human brain imaging has confirmed that those same brain regions and chemistries also control human sadness.
Panksepp also mapped the neural pathways for joy and happiness by identifying those mechanisms that controlled the laughter-type sounds made by rats engaged in social play. He was the first to demonstrate that rats make laughing sounds when they are tickled.
In more than 300 articles and several books, including “Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions” (Oxford, 1998), Panksepp has created a new field of research. By making the biological connection between animal and human emotional systems, he has helped make animal research an important component of psychiatric science. His research has also been featured on MSNBC and in Psychology Today.
Panksepp has collaborated on numerous projects with colleagues at other universities in the United States and abroad. He is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Bowling Green State University, as well as head of Affective Neuroscience Research at the Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics at Northwestern University. He is co-director of research for the Hope for Depression Foundation in New York City.