News Release: Research, School of Medicine

Oct. 10,  2008

Emory Sound Science Podcast: Psychiatrist Discusses Neuroeconomics and Decision Making

Using brain-imaging technologies, Greg Berns, MD, PhD, studies human motivation and decision making by focusing on neuroeconomics, a blend of neuroscience, economics and psychology.

To listen to Berns’ own words about how neuroeconomics affects us all, access Emory's new Sound Science podcast at

Berns, the Emory distinguished professor of neuroeconomics and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, recently launched the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory. The center focuses on how the biology of the brain influences decision making in politics, policy and business.

“For decades, neuroscientists, psychologists and economists have studied human decision making from different perspectives,” says Berns. “Although each has approached the problem with different theories and techniques, the basic question cuts across many fields: how do humans balance individual self-interest against societal good?

“We all live in groups,” says Berns. “Sometimes groups make good decisions, but often time groups behave worse than any of its members should. This new center will approach the problem of collective decision making from an entirely new perspective, but studying how the human brain functions in groups.”

Berns is the author of "Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment" (Henry Holt & Co., 2005) and the forthcoming "Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently" (Harvard Business School Press, 2008).

Berns graduated cum laude in physics from Princeton University, received a PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of California, Davis, and an MD from the University of California, San Diego, He completed a psychiatry residency at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh. He joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in 1998. Current projects include the biology of adolescent decisionmaking and the effects of peer pressure on risk attitudes.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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