Antonio Damasio's research in neuroscience has shown that emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making. His work has had a major influence on current understanding of the neural systems, which underlie memory, language, consciousness.
Antonio Damasio is a leader in understanding the biological origin of consciousness. He also argues that emotions, far from being barriers to it, are a crucial component of decision-making. He is founder and director of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute, which draws on partners across academic disciplines to use the explosion of new neuroscience results to tackle issues from mental health to societal and global change.
Damasio is the author of Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, which was adapted into a musical composition performed by Yo-Yo Ma at the American Museum of Natural History.
“A conscious mind is a mind with a self in it.”
“How can you have this reference point, this stability, that is required to maintain the continuity of selves day after day?”
“Scott Fitzgerald said famously that ‘he who invented consciousness would have a lot to be blamed for.’ But he also forgot that without consciousness, he would have no access to true happiness or even the possibility of transcendence.”
“The autobiographical self has prompted extended memory, reasoning, imagination, creativity and language. And out of that came the instruments of culture — religions, justice, trade, the arts, science, technology.”
“The autobiographical self is built on the basis of past memories and memories of the plans that we have made; it’s the lived past and the anticipated future.”
“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.”
“We are not passive exhibitors of visual or auditory or tactile images. We have selves. We have a Me that is automatically present in our minds right now.”
“What happens [in a coma] is that you lose the grounding of the self, you no longer have access to any feeling of your own existence.”