1995: Damasio


Dr. Antonio R. Damasio, Maurice Van Allen Professor and head of the Department of Neurology in the University of Iowa College of Medicine, won the 1995 Golden Brain Award from the Minerva Foundation for his groundbreaking work on the brain basis of rationality and decision-making.

In announcing the award, the late Elwin Marg said, "Damasio's theories of how rationality has developed and his study of the role of emotion in the behavior of patients with lesions of the frontal cortex have illuminated how emotions and feelings contribute to how we reason." Marg, the Minerva Foundation's Executive Director, and who also served as professor of vision science at the University of California-Berkeley, described Damasio's work as "original and highly significant."

The Minerva Foundation, based in Berkeley, was established in 1984 to promote basic research on vision and the brain. The Golden Brain Award honors researchers who are making fundamental breakthroughs that extend knowledge of the brain and expand understanding of important physiological functions. Damasio was the 11th recipient of the award.

Damasio joined the UI faculty in 1976 and became head of the Department of Neurology in 1986. He was named Maurice Van Allen Distinguished Professor in 1989.

His well-known book, "Descartes' Error; Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain," was translated into 12 languages and reached lay audiences as well as readers in the scientific and medical communities. In it, Damasio says that mind and body, reason and emotion are inextricably intertwined, and that emotion is at least as important a brain function as cognition.

He and his colleague and wife, Dr. Hanna Damasio, created a leading research center at the UI for the study of the neural basis of cognition and behavior.

Damasio also serves as an adjunct professor with the Salk Institute and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and several other societies, boards of leading neuroscience journals and research foundations.