David Sander is an affective science researcher whose work brings together several different disciplines all related to emotions, including the humanities, psychology, neuroscience, information technology, law and economics.
As a professor of psychology, Sander is convinced that psychological research will benefit from a conceptual analysis of phi-losophy combined with a better understanding of how our brain works. He advocates a multifaceted approach, firm in the belief that computer-generated imaging, psychophysiology, functional MRI, olfactometry and even virtual reality are all capable of teaching us more about the human mind. In recognition of his research, he was recently awarded the National Latsis Prize 2013.Psychology and mathematics
Sander’s interest in emotions began with his study of cognitive science. In 1996, two years after beginning studies in both psychology and ap-plied mathematics in Paris, he headed to Lyon and a recently-launched cognitive science study programme. He soon began applying these tools to emotions. By using a multitude of approaches, he wanted to identify the mechanisms governing emotions and derive the underly-ing principles.A mini revolution
At the time it was commonly believed that this almond-shaped structure constituted the brain’s “fear centre”. With his article, Sander was presenting an alternative hypothesis: according to him the amygdala had a much broader function, that of assessing the relevance of an event, and of informing us of what is important in terms of our goals, our values and our immediate well-being. With this hypothesis, he was establishing a connection between our emotions and what he calls “the heart of the mind”.
At present, he and his colleagues are focusing their research on five components common to all emotions: physiological response, tendency to action, evaluation, expression (face, voice and body) and subjective feeling. Their work explores the processes triggered by emotions in the brain, the type of emotions elicited by smells and how social factors affect emotions.
An in-depth article on David Sander can be found in the latest edition of the Swiss research magazine “Horizons”, which has just been published: www.snsf.ch > Current issues > Research magazine HorizonteContact details of the winner:
The National Latsis Prize, worth 100,000 Swiss francs, is one of Switzerland’s most prestigious scientific prizes. Awarded annually on behalf of the international Latsis Foundation by the SNSF, it honours the outstanding scientific achievements of researchers under the age of 40 working in Switzerland.The thirtieth award ceremony will take place on 16 January 2014 as of 10:30 a.m. at the Rathaus in Berne. This event is open to all news media.
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