J. Wayne Aldridge, Ph.D., professor of psychology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and professor of neurosurgery in the Medical School, retired from active faculty status on December 31, 2019.
Professor Aldridge received his B.Sc. (1973), M.Sc. (1975), and Ph.D. (1979) degrees from the University of Toronto. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta from 1979-82. He joined the University of Michigan faculty as an assistant research scientist in neurology in 1982, and was promoted to associate research scientist in neurology in 1996. He was appointed associate professor of psychology in 2009, and was promoted to professor of psychology and professor of neurosurgery in 2011.
Professor Aldridge's work was at the forefront of understanding what has been called the brain's 'basal ganglia.' This brain circuitry is important to both movement and to motivation. Dysfunctions in this circuitry can underlie Parkinson's disease, addictions, and other disorders. Professor Aldridge used sophisticated electrophysiological techniques to monitor the firing patterns of neurons in this circuit to decode its signaling of behavior and psychological processes. Professor Aldridge's early work focused on how movement and complex patterns were executed by this brain circuitry, and later extended to include reward learning and motivation functions that mediate normal appetites, but which can become pathologically magnified to cause excessive addiction. His most recent research has addressed individual differences that may relate to why some individuals are more vulnerable than others are to developing addiction. He also contributed to clinical human patient care, by monitoring electrical patterns deep in patients' brains to guide surgeons during neurosurgery. In all these arenas, Professor Aldridge's work was marked by a high degree of collaboration, including the formation of productive teams with other Michigan faculty to better understand complex brain functions. Professor Aldridge also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in biopsychology and neuroscience, and was a dedicated mentor to research students at all levels.
The Regents now salute this distinguished faculty member by naming J. Wayne Aldridge, professor emeritus of psychology and professor emeritus of neurosurgery.