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Caltech Associates Guests Discover How Our Brains Work

Guests Linda Brunner, Dedsy and Charles Baggott and Millicent Reynolds enjoy the wonderful outdoor reception at the Caltech Associates dinner

Guests Linda Brunner, Dedsy and Charles Baggott and Millicent Reynolds enjoy the wonderful outdoor reception at the Caltech Associates dinner

Pasadena, Calif.—How do our brains process information about other people? When we see someone crying, why do we know they are sad and feel empathy for them? Why do people with neurological and psychiatric issues like autism process this information differently?

These were the questions on everyone’s mind as they listened to speaker Dr. Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Professor of Biology, at a dinner for the Associates of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Adolphs research at Caltech investigates the neural and psychological basis of social behavior in humans, by focusing on how different groups recognize emotions from people's facial expressions and from other visual cues.

In order to obtain this information Adolphs uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other techniques to study healthy individuals, neurological patients with brain damage, psychiatric populations such as people with autism, and patients who have electrodes implanted in their brains.

His findings have shown that one’s perception of another person is linked to the recognition of socially relevant cues, such as movement of the facial features around the eyes. His research is important since it not only allows for a better understanding of how people with healthy brains function, but also how people function when they have brain dysfunctions such as autism.

Over 140 guests spent the evening enthralled with Adolphs’ research and the potential implications of his findings. “The study of what makes our human experience both uniquely human and uniquely variable is fascinating,” said Associates member Janice Ohta. “Understanding both our commonalities and our differences in biological and mechanistic terms is particularly interesting in concert with observing our behavioral differences.”

“I come away from each Associates event having enjoyed a good meal, having met and spoken with other interesting people, and feeling that, perhaps, I learned a little bit more than I knew before,” said Ohta when asked why she likes to attend the Associates dinner lectures. “I am continually amazed at the world-class work that people at Caltech are doing. I want to not only support their efforts in whatever small way I can, but also to learn about their phenomenal research and projects.”

While many of the guests in attendance were members of the Associates, the majority of the people there were guests and somewhat unfamiliar with the amazing research being done at Caltech by faculty members like Adolphs.

To learn more about the Caltech Associates, and how you can attend an event or lecture please visit http://associates.caltech.edu/ or contact at 626-395-3919.

The Associates of the
California Institute of Technology
M/C 5-32
1200 E. California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
Contact: Julia J. Cody
(626) 395-2926
jcody@dar.caltech.edu
http://associates.caltech.edu

About the Associates: Founded in 1926, the Associates is a support organization for the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with over 1,450 members throughout the United States and abroad - a diverse cross section of members of the local & business community, Caltech alumni and faculty, and philanthropists.

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