Katalin Gothard, UA Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience in the College of Medicine
Wednesday, April 24, 2:30-3:30 p.m., The Arizona Senior Academy Building
In the third of this year’s UA College of Sciences series of public lectures, Professor Katalin Gothard will bring to the Arizona Senior Academy her talk on how health and disease “can be better understood via the exchange of biological signals between the brain and body,” and how an understanding of that mind-body connection can be the foundation of better personal and social relations.
Professor Gothard’s past research has focused on the emotional behavior of Rhesus monkeys, whose cognitive abilities and social structures are close to humans’. But because they have no concept of future and no abstract thought, the differences between the monkeys’ behaviors and ours are highlighted, and we see that we can learn to “overcome the basic and nearly automatic emotional tendency to respond with fear” that “makes us aggressive, tribal, competitive.” In short, we can come to understand how to cultivate the positive emotions of openness and trust. Over the next several years Gothard will be monitoring the monkeys’ brains to find “brain states associated with positive experiences” that may also be encouraged in humans.
Professor Gothard has first-hand experience with negative aspects of human interactions. In 1989, during the dictatorship in her home country of Romania, she was arrested and interrogated for passing information on the abuses to UA Regents’ Professor John Hildebrand, whom she had met at an International Brain Research Organization Conference in Hungary. After the fall of the regime in December 1989, Gothard came to the U.S. to study neuroscience with Professor Hildebrand. Professor Gothard earned her medical degree in Romania; her Ph.D. is from the University of Arizona. She has received two teaching awards in the College of Medicine.
Written by Suzanne Ferguson, Academy Village Volunteer