Professor's Psychology Study Among Top 10 of the Year

January 16, 2014

A Bradley University psychology professor's study is recognized as one of the year’s top psychological studies by Forbes.  The study is highlighted on the recently published Forbes list of “Top 10 Brain Science and Psychology Studies of 2013” (No. 2 on list).

Dr. Lane Beckes, assistant professor of psychology, joined the faculty at Bradley last fall, coming from the University of Virginia. While at the University of Virginia, Beckes was one of three researchers (along with Dr. James A. Coan and Karen Hasselmo) who worked on a study that shows the human brain is wired to connect with others so strongly that it experiences what the other person experiences as if it is happening to oneself.

During this study, researchers threatened participants who were undergoing brain scans with electrical shock or threatened to shock strangers and/or friends.  The result was that participants reacted nearly the same when they were threatened themselves as when friends were threatened.  Researchers say this means the brain sees people who are close to us as part of us.  The study was published in the journal "Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience."

Beckes says this finding might ultimately help researchers investigate and understand how empathy and emotional connections are physically manifested in the brain.  “Some of our unpublished data suggests that these methods might allow us to predict the likelihood that someone has aggressive tendencies, the degree to which they empathize with others easily, and other potentially important facets of any given person's social and emotional life.” 

Bradley President Joanne Glasser says educators like Dr. Beckes are invaluable to the Bradley experience.  “I am so very proud of our faculty.  Professor Beckes, like many others, is dedicated to his work and this recognition is very well deserved.”

Beckes plans to continue his research locally, perhaps partnering with a local hospital in the work.