António R. Damásio

in Lisbon, Portugal
February 25, 1944




Damásio studied medicine at the University of Lisbon Medical School in Portugal, where he also did his medical residency rotation and completed his doctorate. Later, he moved to the United States as a research fellow at the Aphasia Research Center in Boston. His work there on behavioral neurology was done under the supervision of Norman Geschwind.

As a researcher, Dr. Damásio's main interest is the neurobiology of the mind, especially neural systems which subserve memory, language, emotion, and decision-making. His research has helped to elucidate the neural basis for the emotions and has shown that emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making. Damásio has formulated the somatic markers hypothesis.

As a clinician, he a

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“The distinction between diseases of "brain" and "mind," between "neurological" problems and "psychological" or "psychiatric" ones, is an unfortunate cultural inheritance that permeates society and medicine. It reflects a basic ignorance of the relation between brain and mind. Diseases of the brain are seen as tragedies visited on people who cannot be blamed for their condition, while diseases of the mind, especially those that affect conduct and emotion, are seen as social inconveniences for which sufferers have much to answer. Individuals are to be blamed for their character flaws, defective emotional modulation, and so on; lack of willpower is supposed to be the primary problem.”
António R. Damásio, Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

“We all woke up this morning and we had with it the amazing return of our conscious mind. We recovered minds with a complete sense of self and a complete sense of our own existence — yet we hardly ever pause to consider this wonder.”
Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

“Leaving out appraisal also would render the biological description of the phenomena of emotion vulnerable to the caricature that emotions without an appraisal phase are meaningless events. It would be more difficult to see how beautiful and amazingly intelligent emotions can be, and how powerfully they can solve problems for us.”
Antonio Damasio, Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain

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