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Renowned behavioral neuroscientist Terry E. Robinson will give the Henry Russel Lecture on March 5.
His lecture, titled "Rush to Reductionism: Lessons from Studies on the Neurobiology of Addiction," will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Rackham Amphitheatre.
The Henry Russel Lectureship is considered U-M's highest honor for senior members of active faculty. It is awarded annually to recognize a faculty member with exceptional achievements in research, scholarship or creative endeavors, as well as an outstanding record of distinguished teaching, mentoring and service to the university and wider communities.
onsidered the university’s highest honor for early and mid-career faculty, the Henry Russel Award recognizes those who have demonstrated an extraordinary record of accomplishment in scholarly research or creativity, as well as an excellent record of contributions as a teacher.
Robinson, Elliot S. Valenstein Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and professor of psychology, LSA, is renowned for his path-breaking research on the effects of addictive drugs on the brain and behavior, including the persistent psychological and neurobiological consequences of repeated psychostimulant drug use, and the implications of these for addiction and relapse.
Among other contributions, he discovered the brain mechanisms by which normal reward-related processes go awry, contributing to drug addiction.
For his Russel Lecture, Robinson said he will emphasize how, "the reductionist trend in neuroscience these days is to very quickly launch detailed investigations as to the cells, circuits and molecules that mediate behavioral and psychological functions."
"But one problem with this is that the cart is often put before the horse, in that mechanisms are sought for behavioral and psychological phenomena that themselves have not yet been well characterized," he said. "That is, the behavioral or psychological side of the equation is often given short shrift in the rush to reductionism."
Robinson said he will draw on examples from his own work, which focuses on the psychology and neurobiology of addiction, to discuss how mechanistic studies using popular animal models of addiction may be premature, given it is still unclear as to what behavioral procedures best capture the human situation.