The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, a consortium of eight metro Atlanta colleges and universities led by Georgia State University, has received a $3.4 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate the neurobiology behind the evolution of positive emotions and pro-social behaviors.
The funding will support an exhibit at Zoo Atlanta designed to develop broader public awareness of neuroscience research through educational activities that engage visitors in learning more about the emotional and behavioral similarities and differences between humans and non-human primates.
By comparing the structure and function of the neural mechanisms regulating pro-social behavior in human and non-human primates, researchers will be able to define the nature and evolutionary development of pro-social characteristics such as empathy, compassion, and cooperation. The research team will work to determine if oxytocin, a chemical signal in the brain, acts uniquely within the human brain to aid in pro-social emotion and behavior, or if it acts similarly in non-human primates as well. The research will build on advances that have been made in the understanding of the neural basis of positive emotions and will employ new technologies to investigate the neural mechanisms responsible for pro-social capabilities.
"This funding will support the longstanding inter-institutional, multidisciplinary research program of the CBN," said Michael Cassidy, president of the Georgia Research Alliance, "and the ability to obtain such funding is indicative of the strength of Georgia research universities in the area of brain research."