Joseph E. LeDoux

New York University


Election Year: 2013
Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 24, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member

Biosketch

Joseph LeDoux is the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at NYU in the Center for Neural Science, and he directs the Emotional Brain Institute of NYU and the Nathan Kline Institute. He is the author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self, and co-authored The Integrated Mind with Michael Gazzaniga. LeDoux has received a number of awards, including the Karl Spencer Lashley Award from the American Philosophical Society, the Fyssen International Prize in Cognitive Science, Jean Louis Signoret Prize of the IPSEN Foundation, the Santiago Grisolia Prize, the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, the American Psychological Association Donald O. Hebb Award.  LeDoux is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.   He is also the lead singer and songwriter in the rock band, The Amygdaloids.

Research Interests

LeDoux's research has focused on the brain mechanisms of emotion and memory. He has explored this topic through research on Pavlovian threat (fear) conditioning since the early 1980s.  His work has helped identify the neural circuits and cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the acquisition, consolidation, reconsolidation, extinction, and expression of threat conditioning. LeDoux has long argued that the neural mechanisms that detect and respond to threats operate unconsciously, and are distinct from the circuits that give rise to conscious feelings of fear.  The latter, he suggests, can be studied in humans but cannot be studied scientifically in animals.  He argues that using the same term, "fear," to describe circuits that detect and respond to threats and circuits that consciously experience fear is a source of confusion and a hindrance to progress in understand what fear is and how it affects the lives of people.

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