Lecture by professor of neuropsychiatry Ray Dolan, University College London, United Kingdom.
Evolution has hardwired the human brain to seek out rewards at all times. Be it food, sex or that next episode on Netflix, the human brain releases a chemical called dopamine to promote recurrence of pleasing activities. This raises the question: How essential is dopamine for mental function?
The lecture is taught in English/Foredraget afholdes på engelsk.
Professor Ray Dolan is the latest receiver of the greatest prize in brain research, The Brain Prize. We are happy to announce that he will give the associated public lecture 'The Brain Prize public lecture' at this lecture series 'Offentlige foredrag i Naturvidenskab' (Public Lectures in Natural Science). In the lecture, he will talk about the research that led to him being awarded the prize.
Content of the lecture
A fundamental requirement for the survival of most living organisms is that they have an ability to effectively seek out sources of reward and avoid sources of punishment. Rewards include food, water, sex, drugs as well as more abstract entities such as money and aesthetic experience. Evolution has endowed humans, and other species, with special mechanisms that promote learning about sources of rewards, as well as providing a motivation to seek out such rewards. The action of a special brain chemical, known as dopamine, is key to these mechanisms. Over the past two decades scientists have made fundamental discoveries that shed new light on how dopamine enables a wide range of reward related behaviours. These discoveries include revealing a fundamental mathematical algorithm that is coded in the pattern of firing of dopamine neurons. Ray Dolan will provide an account of these discoveries, including how they are shaping our current understanding of how humans make choices and the consequences of a loss of brain dopamine for mental function and mental health.