Gregory S. Berns

Gregory Berns

Gregory Berns, M.D., Ph.D. is the Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University, where he directs the Center for Neuropolicy. He is a Professor in the Psychology Department and a founding member of the Society for Neuroeconomics.

His current research uses fMRI to study canine cognitive function in awake, unrestrained dogs. The goals of these projects are to non-invasively map the perceptual and decision systems of the dog's brain and to predict likelihood of success in service dogs. He also uses diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to reconstruct the white matter pathways of a wide variety of other mammals, including dolphins, sea lions, coyotes, and the extinct Tasmanian tiger.

Previous research was aimed at understanding the neurobiological basis for individual preferences and how neurobiology places constraints on the decisions that people and animals make. We used fMRI to measure the activity in key parts of the brain involved in decision making. For example, we have used this activity to predict the commercial success of popular songs – the first prospective demonstration in neuromarketing. These results have found application in understanding common stock investing errors, and more recently, in the stock market’s reaction to earnings announcements.  We have also studied decision-making over “sacred values” in the brain and its implications for terrorism. 

Dr. Berns’ research is frequently the subject of popular media coverage including articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money, Oprah, Forbes, The Financial Times, The New Scientist, Wired, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, International Herald Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. He speaks frequently on CNN and NPR, and has been profiled on ABC’s Primetime and CBS’s Sunday Morning.

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