Monday, April 30, 2012

Al Kaszniak: Empathy & Compassion: Contemplative and Neuroscience Perspectives

Al Kaszniak, Ph.D., is currently Head of the Department of Psychology, Director of Clinical Neuropsychology, Director of the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium Education Core, and a professor in the departments of psychology, neurology, and psychiatry at The University of Arizona. His work has focused on the neuropsychology of Alzheimer's disease and other age-related neurological disorders, memory self-monitoring, the biological bases of emotion, and emotion response and regulation in long-term Zen and Vipassana meditators. He is a co-founder and frequent guest at Upaya Zen Center's Zen Brain conference, co-created with Roshi Joan Halifax.

From his faculty page at the U of A:


My research program is aimed at increasing our understanding of human brain systems involved in both cognition and emotion. Specifically, my laboratory and clinic research currently involves four different, although related, domains of interest: (1) Neuropsychological aspects of aging; (2) Neuropsychological aspects of age-related disorders of the central nervous system; (3) The neuropsychology of consciousness and self-awareness; and (4) Emotion.

Neuropsychological aspects of aging:

This research has focused upon age-related changes in explicit and implicit memory, and upon metamemory (self-awareness of one's own memory functioning and abilities), particularly in relation to differential contributions of frontal-subcortical vs. hippocampal system functioning.

Neuropsychological aspects of age-related disorders of the CNS:

This research has focused upon characterizing the nature of memory and language impairments in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, upon neuroradiologic and electrophysiologic correlates of these impairments, and upon the clinical assessment and management of dementing illness. Recent studies explored the electrophysiological correlates of masked repetition priming in Alzheimer's disease, examined the predictive validity of neuropsychological approaches to the differentiation of dementia and depression in older age, studied the psychophysiology of emotion in Alzheimer's disease, and evaluated the efficacy of innovative residential programs for the care of persons with Alzheimer's disease.

Neuropsychology of self-awareness:

This research has focused upon self-awareness of memory and other cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease, and upon neuroimaging correlates of memory self-monitoring in healthy younger and older adults. Recent studies have involved examination of structural (MRI) and functional (fMRI) brain imaging correlates of performance on feeling-of-knowing and tip-of-the tongue tasks, and the behavioral consequences (e.g., accident risk) of impaired self-awareness of deficit.

Brain systems and individual variability in emotion and emotion regulation:

This research has evaluated emotional cue (e.g., facial expression, visual emotional scenes) comprehension in Alzheimer's disease, in patients with select focal cortical lesions, and in patients with particular psychiatric conditions (e.g., alexithymia), and psychophysiological response to emotional stimuli in these groups as well as healthy younger and older adults. In addition, the laboratory is currently studying dissociations between emotional experience, expression (e.g., facial EMG) and autonomic physiology (e.g, skin conductance response) in persons with structural damage to frontal regions (e.g., orbitomedial versus dorsolateral lesion location), and is examining emotion-related startle potentiation in healthy younger and older adults and those with Alzheimer's disease.

Empathy & Compassion: Contemplative and Neuroscience Perspectives

Professor Al Kaszniak's talk to the UA Psychology Department (not to AMRIG) on 4/2/10.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Part Six:

Part Seven:

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