Arts and Cognition Monograph: About the Contributors

March, 2008

About the Contributors 

Arts & Cognition Photo - D'Esposito - ThumbnailMark D’Esposito, M.D., Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, Director, Henry H. Wheeler, Jr. Brain Imaging Center, University of California, Berkeley earned his medical degree in 1987 at the SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse and completed clinical training in Neurology at Boston University Medical Center in 1991. After residency training, he was awarded a NIH Javits Fellowship to pursue research training at the Memory Disorders Research Center at Boston University and Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital. In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he was also the Chief of the Cognitive Neurology Division. In 2000, he was recruited to the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley to become Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, and the Director of their newly created Henry H. Wheeler, Jr. Brain Imaging Center.

Since his first faculty appointment in 1993, Dr. D’Esposito has had a highly productive academic career. He has received numerous competitive research grants from the National Institutes of Health as well as private sources such as the Dana Foundation and the American Federation for Aging Research. For his clinical, teaching, and research skills he has been given many awards and honors such as being cited in “The Best Doctors in America”, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching, Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral Neurology from American Academy of Neurology. He is the Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, and he has over 200 research publications and has written and edited five books. Based on these achievements, he has been invited to give lectures throughout the world.

Dr. D’Esposito’s research focuses on investigating how the brain creates mental experience, such as forming memories and paying attention. This aim is achieved through several different experimental approaches and methodologies. First, his lab employs a brain imaging method called functional MRI (fMRI) to identify the brain regions and time course of brain activity while healthy human subjects perform cognitive tasks. A key focus has been on the cognitive functions supported by the frontal lobes. Second, his lab investigates the relationship between brain chemicals, such as dopamine, and frontal lobe function. This aim is achieved by determining the affects of various medications on cognitive abilities in healthy subjects as well as patients with memory loss. Finally, he studies patients who have suffered memory loss from stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease to further understand the brain mechanisms that underlie memory function. Finally, his lab is attempting to understand normal aging and specifically why individuals become forgetful as they get older. The ultimate goal of this line of research is to both understand how the brain works, as well as to develop new ways to diagnose and treat patients with memory disorders.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Dunbar - ThumbnailKevin Dunbar, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and director of the Laboratory for complex Thinking and Scientific Reasoning at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. For the past 20 years he has been investigating the ways that people think and reason in complex environments and has focused on the effects of education, both in the performing arts and in science, on the brain. He has investigated students and scientists across many domains to achieve a deeper understanding of what and how we learn. He has investigtated leading scientists in the US, Canada, and Italy and has discovered some of the key strategies that scientists use to make discoveries. He also conducts research on scientific thinking in his own laboratory to further probe the scientific thinking strategies that he has seen scientists use “live.” In addition, he has also conducted research on the development of scientific thinking abilities in children. Currently, he is using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) techniques to unravel the ways that the human brain reasons and changes as a function of educational experience. He is also pioneering the use of DNA microarrays (also known as genechips) and DNA genotyping to understand the genetics of learning and cognition. Using these different approaches, Professor Dunbar has been able to articulate the nature of the creative mind and its many facets.

Dunbar has served on the editorial boards of Journal of Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology and is a member of the steering committee for the Irish Cognitive Science Society. He has spoken at the National Research Council of the national Academy of Sciences, and given keynote addresses and colloquia at major congresses and in Psychology, Biology, and Medical departments in North America (such as Harvard University, Cornell University, UCLA, UCSB, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Northwestern University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Arlington, Vassar College, University of Chicago, University of Toronto, University of Alberta, University of Montreal, Concordia University, Carleton University), Europe (University of Modena, Istituto San Raffaele), and Asia (Aoyama Gakuin in Tokyo). In 2006 he spoke to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. He gave the plenary address to the International Cognitive Science Society in Tokyo in August 1999, and in April 2000 he was chosen by the American Psychological Society to speak before the heads of all the major scientific societies in North America on his vision of the problems science will face in the next 25 years. Furthermore, he was selected as a member of the APS and Spencer Foundation-sponsored working retreat on “applying the science of learning to the University and beyond” in March 2001). His research has been funded by the National Science foundation, Dana Foundation, US Office of Naval Research, NIH, the Spencer Foundation and the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Council, SSHRC, FCAR, & FRSQ. He has appeared on The Discovery Channel, BBC radio, CBC radio, and his work has been written about in newspapers such as The New Scientist, The Washington Post, the APA Monitor, and the Times Higher Educational Supplement. His work on scientific discovery was itself given an award for being one of the most important scientific discoveries of 1993 by the governing scientists of Québec Science magazine. His work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, and Italian.

Kevin Dunbar was born in Birmingham England, but grew up in Ireland. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology from the National University of Ireland. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1985 and was a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University from 1985-1988. He was at McGill University in Montreal from 1988 to 2001 and was professor of Education and Psychology at Dartmouth College from 2001 until 2007. He joined the faculty at the University of Toronto in 2007.

Michael Gazzaniga - ThumbnailMichael Gazzaniga, Ph.D., is the Director of the Sage Center for the study of Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1964 he received a Ph.D from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked under the guidance of Roger Sperry, with primary responsibility for initiating human split-brain research. In his subsequent work he has made important advances in our understanding of functional lateralization in the brain and how the cerebral hemispheres communicate with one another. He has published many books accessible to a lay audience, such as The Social Brain, Mind Matters, Nature’s Mind, and The Ethical Brain. These, along with his participation in several public television specials have been instrumental in making information about brain function generally accessible to the public. Dr. Gazzaniga’s long and distinguished teaching and mentoring career has included beginning and developing Centers for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California-Davis and at Dartmouth; supervising the work and encouraging the careers of many young scientists; and founding the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute and the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, of which he is the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus. Dr. Gazzaniga is also prominent as an advisor to various institutes involved in brain research, and is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and the Institute of Medicine. His upcoming book is Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Grafton - ThumbnailScott Grafton, M.D., is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Brain Imaging Center at University of California at Santa Barbara. He received B.A.s in Mathematics and Psychobiology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his M.D. degree from the University of Southern California. He completed a Neurology residency at the University of Washington and a residency in Nuclear Medicine at UCLA. He was a research fellow in Neuroimaging at UCLA where he developed methods for mapping human brain activity using positron emission tomography. He received tenure while at the University of Southern California. He subsequently held positions at Emory University and Dartmouth College, where he was director of the Brain Imaging Center. He joined the UCSB faculty in 2006. Professor Grafton is the author of more than 125 publications. He is action editor for the journal NeuroImage and is on the editorial board of Annals of Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, and the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. He has been a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIH intramural branch and an NIH study section member.

Dr. Grafton’s research is focused on understanding the neural underpinnings of goal-oriented action. This includes studies of skill acquisition, the development of expertise, observational learning, and the understanding the meaning of actions performed by others. These studies are relevant for understanding patients undergoing therapy to maintain or recover function in the setting of neurologic injury or degeneration and in understanding the normal development of complex human behavior.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Jonides - ThumbnailJohn Jonides, Ph.D., is the Daniel J. Weintraub Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and co-director of the fMRI Center at the University of Michigan. Dr. Jonides has over 100 referreed publications as well as several edited and authored books. He is widely known for his research using behavioral and neuroimaging techniques studying mechanisms of executive processing and working memory.

For over 20 years, Dr. Jonides’ research program has been concerned with understanding many aspects of working memory. Included in that program has been a substantial body of work, still ongoing, to chart the characteristics of information storage in working memory. Also included is more recent research concerning the mechanisms of executive processing, especially as this is reflected in processes involved in switching from one representation in memory to another and in processes used to resolve interference among alternative memory representations, including inhibitory processes. This program of research makes use of behavioral research on both normal and brain-injured humans as well as functional MRI and other imaging modalities as sources of data concerning the mechanisms of working memory.

In addition to his research program, Professor Jonides has also been very active in the development and operation of research evaluation programs. In 1988, he developed a basic research funding program at the Air Force Office of Sponsored Research. In 1999, he was a leading figure in developing a new funding program in cognitive neuroscience for the National Science Foundation. He has also served for NSF as a panel member, he has served on four NIH study sections, and he currently chairs a study section for NIH.

Jessica Kieras, Ph.D., received her doctorate in 2006 from Oregon with Mary Rothbart as her committee chair. Her doctoral thesis concerned the influence of motivation on children’s attention.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Neville - ThumbnailHelen J. Neville, Ph.D., was awarded the B.A. degree from the University of British Columbia, an M.A. from Simon Fraser University and Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her postdoctoral training was at the University of California, San Diego in the Department of Neurosciences. Her major research interests are the biological constraints and the role of experience in neurosensory and neurocognitive development in humans. Methods include behavioral measures and event-related brain potentials (ERPs), and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Her work experience includes Director of the Laboratory for Neuropsychology at the Salk Institute and Professor, Department of Cognitive Science, UCSD.

Dr. Neville is currently The Robert and Beverly Lewis Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Director of the Brain Development Lab, and Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She has published in many books and journals including Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex and Brain Research. She has received many honors including being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a member of the Board of Governors of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the Academic Panel of Birth to Three, and is active in many educational outreach programs.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Neville - ThumbnailLaura-Ann Petitto, Ed.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist in the Department of Psychology at University of Toronto. She is full Professor and “Director and Senior Scientist” in The Genes, Mind, and fNIRS Brain Imaging Laboratory for Language, Bilingualism, & Child Development at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and she is a full Professor in the Graduate Studies Program at the University of Toronto, St. George. Dr. Petitto is known for her work on the biological bases of language, especially involving early language acquisition. Her studies of this topic span 30 years, beginning in 1973 with her seminal research at Columbia University in which she attempted to teach sign language to a baby chimpanzee (“Project Nim Chimpsky”). More recently, she is known for her discoveries concerning how young human children acquire natural language. Taken together, her research points to the existence of specific tissue in the human brain that helps young babies learn language. Presently, Dr. Petitto studies early language development, especially early childhood bilingual language acquisition, using a revolutionary combination of three disciplines: Genetic analyses (polymorphisms in candidate genes and microchip arrays), Behavioral measures of higher cognitive processes from Psycholinguistics and Developmental Science, and a powerful new brain imaging technology, called functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). Indeed, Petitto’s Laboratory is among only a handful in the world who are pioneering the use of these three disciplines under one roof for the study of early brain development, as well as for the very early detection of brain and language disorders. Her new studies of young bilinguals seek to advance our understanding of the biological foundations of bilingualism, when best to expose young bilinguals to their dual languages, how optimal bilingual language acquisition develops, and, crucially, how and when best to teach young bilinguals to read in each of their two languages. Further, these studies have allowed her to explore different reading and teaching techniques with young bilinguals across different types of reading programs (e.g., phonics versus whole word). Petitto has won continuous (non-interrupted) federal and/or foundation funding for her research for the past 25 years. Recently, she is the recipient of significant federal grants from the National Institutes of Health, including both a 5-year research operating grant (R01) and significant funding for her “innovations to science and technology” (R21) to support her pioneering research using fNIRS brain imaging. Most recently, she was awarded a highly esteemed award from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, involving very significant funding to establish her Genes, Mind, and Brain research laboratory, the first of its kind in the country of Canada. Other recent significant foundation funding includes grants from The Dana Foundation Arts and Cognition Cosortium Study, (2004-2007) and The Spencer Foundation (Major Research Grant, 2000-2003). Petitto received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from Harvard University in 1981 and 1984 (respectively) and built a vibrant laboratory in Cognitive Neuroscience at McGill University (1983-2001; Montreal) and at Dartmouth College (2001-2007) before moving to the University of Toronto in Fall 2007. She is the recipient of over twenty international prizes and awards for her scientific achievements, including the 1998 Guggenheim Award for her “unusually distinguished achievements in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment” in the discipline of Neuroscience.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Neville - ThumbnailMichael Posner, Ph.D., is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon and Adjunct Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell, where he served as founding director of the Sackler Institute. Posner is best known for his work with Marcus Raichle on imaging the human brain during cognitive tasks. He has worked on the anatomy, circuitry, development and genetics of three attentional networks underlying alertness, orienting and voluntary control of thoughts and ideas. His methods for measuring these networks have been applied to neurological, psychiatric and developmental disorders. His current research involves training of attention in young children to understand the interaction of specific experience and genes in shaping attention. He worked for three years conducting research on the Dana Arts and Cognition Consortium.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Neville - ThumbnailMary K. Rothbart, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Oregon. She studies temperamental, emotional and social development, and for the last 25 years has worked with Michael Posner studying the development of attention and its relation to temperamental effortful control. She co-edited the book Temperament in Childhood, wrote Attention in Early Development with Holly Ruff, and with Michael Posner wrote Educating the Human Brain. She has contributed to the education and support of new parents through the Birth to Three organization in Eugene, Oregon. In 2006 she was honored by that group as a “Champion of Children.” She and Posner worked together on the Dana Arts Consortium.

Brad Sheese, Ph.D., is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University. He spent three years as a postdoc at the University of Oregon working with Posner and Rothbart.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Spelke - ThumbnailElizabeth S. Spelke, Ph.D., teaches at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology and co-director of the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative. She studied at Harvard and Yale and received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Cornell University in 1978. She studies the origins and nature of knowledge of objects, persons, space, and numbers through research on human infants, children, human adults in diverse cultures, and nonhuman animals. Author of more than 100 research articles, she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her honors include the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the William James Award of the American Psychological Society, the IPSEN award in Neuronal Plasticity, and honorary degrees from the University of Umea, Sweden, the Ecole Practique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, and the University of Paris-Rene Descartes.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Spelke - ThumbnailBrian A. Wandell, Ph.D., is the first Isaac and Madeline Stein Family Professor. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1979 where he is Chair of Psychology and a member, by courtesy, of Electrical Engineering and Radiology. His research projects center on how we see, spanning topics from visual disorders, reading development in children, to digital imaging devices and algorithms. He is the author of the textbook, Foundations of Vision. Among various awards and prizes, Wandell was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2003.

About The Editors

Arts & Cognition Photo - Asbury - ThumbnailCarolyn Asbury, ScM.P.H., Ph.D., is a consultant to the Dana Foundation, advising on neuroscience and immunology grant programs and on related Dana publications. She trained in public health at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and in health systems sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute (LDI). Prior to consulting with Dana, Dr. Asbury developed grant programs, many of them focused on neurological diseases and cognitive neuroscience, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and was a director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Health and Human Services division.

Her research, conducted at the LDI, concerns orphan (medically important but commercially unattractive) drugs. She consulted on the Orphan Drug Act, which provides for market incentives and regulatory guidance for rare disease products, and is the author of a book, book chapters, and numerous scientific articles on orphan drugs. She serves on several non-profit boards, including the U.S. Pharmacopeia, and is a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and chair of the College’s Public Health Section.

Arts & Cognition Photo - Rich - ThumbnailBarbara Rich, Ed.D., a vice president at the Dana Foundation, is responsible for the News and Internet Office and helps oversee arts education at the Foundation. Rich was a co-editor of Transforming Arts Teaching: The Role of Higher Education; Acts of Achievement: The Role of Performing Arts Centers in Education; and editor of Partnering Arts Education: A Working Model from Arts Connection.

Dr. Rich’s background in communications and education includes posts at Rutgers University and Marymount Manhattan College, where she was dean and then a vice president. She was senior vice president at the Scientists’ Institute for Public Information (SIPI) prior to joining the Dana Foundation.

She has published articles on science and education and has often served as a discussant on both media and arts education. She earned a B.A. from City College of New York, M.A.s from Rutgers University and Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University


In addition to the work on this three-year study by Professor Gazzaniga and the neuroscientists and scientific resaerchers whose biographies and acknowledgments are included above, The Dana Foundation and editors Carolyn Asbury and Barbara Rich would like to thank Alexandra Gazzaniga and Jayne Rosenblatt, as well as our following colleagues in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC, for their work on this publication: Dr. Guy McKhann, senior scientific consultant; Jane Nevins, editor in chief, and Dan Gordon, managing editor of the Dana Press; Janet Eilber, Dana's Director of Arts Education; Letitia Barnes, Johanna Goldberg, Kenneth Krattenmaker, Rebecca Luib, Tyler Ostrander, Carrie Rubinstein, William Stilwell, Isaac Sashitsky, and Ann Whitman.


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