Lectures and seminars What is life? lecture: Biology, Psychology, and Life: Connecting the Dots

27-04-2023 2:00 pm Add to iCal
Campus Solna Samuelsson Lecture Hall, Tomtebodavägen 6, KI Solna Campus

Speaker: Joseph LeDoux, Director, The Emotional Brain Institute, NYU; Professor of Neural Science and Psychology, NYU; Professor of Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone School of Medicine

Hosts: Ingemar Ernberg & Eric Scarfone

 Humans have long thought of their bodies and minds as separate spheres of existence. The body is physical—the source of aches and pains. But the mind is mental; it perceives, remembers, believes, feels, and imagines. Although modern science has largely eliminated this mind–body dualism, people still tend to imagine their minds as separate from their physical being. Even in research, the notions of a “self” that is somehow distinct from the rest of the organism persists. But such ideas are increasingly barriers to discovery and understanding, and a new framework is needed. I propose that a human being can be characterized as a composite or ensemble of four fundamental, parallel, entwined realms of existence that reflect our evolutionary past and account for our present ways of being—biological, neurobiological, cognitive, and conscious. All four are, deep down, biological. But the neurobiological realm transcends the biological, the cognitive transcends the neurobiological, and the conscious transcends the cognitive. We each exist uniquely within our own realms every moment of adult life, and together our realms account for all of what and who we are. The four realms also give us a way to evaluate how we, as an individual person, social group, culture, or species, is similar to and different from other individuals, social groups, cultures, or species. 


WIL seminars are usually followed by lively discussions. This will most likely be also the case, but there is more. Joseph Ledoux, his musical partner Colin Dempsey and their guitars. will play a few songs at an impromptu GIG that will take place in the art Gallery “Candyland” in Söder at 18 pm.


Joseph E. LeDoux
is an American neuroscientist whose research is primarily focused on survival circuits, including their impacts on emotions such as fear and anxiety. LeDoux is the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at New York University, and director of the Emotional Brain Institute, a collaboration between NYU and New York State with research sites at NYU and the Nathan KlineInstitute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New York. He is also the lead singer and songwriter in the band The Amygdaloids. In addition to numerous publications in scholarly journals, LeDoux has written: The Integrated Mind (with Michael Gazzaniga, Plenum, 1978), The Emotional Brain (Simon and Schuster, 1998), Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety (Viking, 2015), The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains (Viking, 2019)


Selected recent publications:

Rust NC, LeDoux JE. The tricky business of defining brain functions. Trends Neurosci. 2023 Jan;46(1):3-4. PMID: 364281946

Wen Z, Raio CM, Pace-Schott EF, Lazar SW, LeDoux JE, Phelps EA, Milad MR. Temporally and anatomically specific contributions of the human amygdala to threat and safety learning. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Jun 28;119(26) :e2204066119..PMID: 35727981 

Oyarzun JP, Kuntz TM, Stussi Y, Karaman OT, Vranos S, Callaghan BL, Huttenhower C, LeDoux JE, Phelps EA. Human threat learning is associated with gut microbiota composition. PNAS Nexus. 2022 Dec 2;1(5):pgac271. PMID: 36712344 

Haaker J, Diaz-Mataix L, Guillazo-Blanch G, Stark SA, Kern L, LeDoux JE, Olsson A.  Observation of others' threat reactions recovers memories previously shaped by firsthand experiences. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 27;118(30):e2101290118. PMID: 34301895 

LeDoux JE, Michel M, Lau H. A little history goes a long way toward understanding why we study consciousness the way we do today. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Mar 31;117(13):6976-6984. PMID: 32170012 

Shrestha P, Ayata P, Herrero-Vidal P, Longo F, Gastone A, LeDoux JE, Heintz N, Klann E.  Cell-type-specific drug-inducible protein synthesis inhibition demonstrates that memory consolidation requires rapid neuronal translation.Nat Neurosci. 2020 Feb;23(2):281-292. 20.PMID: 31959934 

LeDoux J, Daw ND.  Surviving threats: neural circuit and computational implications of a new taxonomy of defensive behaviour. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2018 May;19(5):269-282. PMID: 29593300 

Fink AE, LeDoux JE.   β-Adrenergic enhancement of neuronal excitability in the lateral amygdala is developmentally gated. J Neurophysiol.  2018 May 1;119(5):1658-1664. PMID: 29361666 

Johansen JP, Diaz-Mataix L, Hamanaka H, Ozawa T, Ycu E, Koivumaa J, Kumar A, Hou M, Deisseroth K, Boyden ES, LeDoux JE. Hebbian and neuromodulatory mechanisms interact to trigger associative memory formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 23;111(5). PMID: 25489081 

LeDoux J. Low roads and higher order thoughts in emotion. Cortex. 2014 Oct;59:214-5..PMID: 25015795 

Debiec J, Doyère V, Nader K, Ledoux JE.  Directly reactivated, but not indirectly reactivated, memories undergo reconsolidation in the amygdala. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 28;103(9):3428-33. PMID: 16492789 

Phelps EA, LeDoux JE.  Contributions of the amygdala to emotion processing: from animal models to human behavior. Neuron. 2005 Oct 20;48(2):175-87. PMID: 16242399 


More information on Joseph LeDoux