Katalin Gothard
Katalin Gothard

Social life is the main source of our emotions.  Emotions are linked to our “social brain,” and the brain’s emotive part is connected to learning and memory.  What you learn through emotion is difficult to erase.

“Our primary research goal is to understand the neural basis of emotion,” says Prof. Katalin Gothard, who presented recent research findings during her talk, “The Ancestors in Our Brains” at the UA College of Science’s annual Science Lecture Series, the theme this year being “The Evolving Brain.”

As in past years, the Arizona Senior Academy is pleased to bring these encore lectures to Tucson’s East Side audiences. Gothard’s presentation will be a video recording of her original talk, shown on the big screen in the ASA Great Room at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday (April 10).

Highlighting similarities between the primate and the human brain, Gothard will explore a common basis with emotions and social behavior. For example, the primate brain contains a class of neurons active only during social interaction involving eye contact.  “Emotion facilitates learning and puts it into an enhanced higher gear,” observed Gothard, “The ancient molecules and core circuits that make us social and emotional beings interface harmoniously with brain structures which make us thinkers and inventors of technology.”

A neurosurgeon by training, Gothard holds both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. She now focuses on neuroscience research involving emotions, learning and social behavior. She is a UA associate professor in physiology, neuroscience and at the UA’s Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.

Submitted by George Scholz, Academy Village Volunteer

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Social life shapes emotions, brain researcher shows: April 2014