CONVERSATIONS WITH REMARKABLE MINDS
The national debt and deficit conundrum and why it matters to us
Professor Simon Johnson is the Ronald A Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, where he specializes in financial and economic crises. He is member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisors and the FDIC Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee and President of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies. From 2007 to August 2008, Prof. Johnson served as the chief economist of the IMF and the director of its research department where he focused on formulating innovative responses to the global financial crisis. Along with his co-author James Kwak at the University of Connecticut, he hosts the influential website BaselineScenario.com which keeps up on the current economic crisis. Their most recent book – “White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt and Why It Matters to You” comes on the heels of their acclaimed book Thirteen Bankers – considered by many economists as the most concise book on the financial meltdown. The new details the history of our national debt and deficit, which is being regarded by many commentators as perhaps the key topic during the upcoming presidential election.
Neuroscientific advances in understanding the emotional life of the brain – how we think, feel and love, and how contemplative practice can change the brain from negative emotions
Prof. Richard Davidson is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and holds the directorships of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin where he has been teaching since 1984. Prof. Davidson is regarded by many as a leading pioneer in the new discipline of brain research known as Affective Neuroscience. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research into brain imaging and analysis including a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, a Distinguished Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders, and theWilliam James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society. He is the past-President of the Society for Research in Psychopathology and of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and in 2003 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Time Magazine named Prof. Davidson as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. That is the science side of Prof. Davidson. However as a graduate student at Harvard during the mid 1970s, Richard made his first trip India to study meditation which has been a discipline he has practiced ever since. In 1992, at the insistence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he commenced to break away from standard brain research protocol, which had focused solely on mapping negative brain function such as in depression, stress and psychotic conditions, and instead focused on brain function of the positive emotions such as compassion, kindness, and happiness. After studying many of the most advanced meditators from India, Nepal and Bhutan who were brought to his university’s brain imaging laboratory, Prof. Davidson discovered evidence for the brain’s neuroplasticity enabling us to change our brains to become more resilient, attentive and aware that benefits both physical health and our emotional lives.
His research and hypothesis of Emotional Styles are presented in his most recent book, co-authored with Sharon Begley who has been a guest on this program in the past – “The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel and Live, and How You Can Change Them.”