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Questions and Answers

Einstein Visiting Fellow Raymond J Dolan on his studies and aims for his Berlin project

What motivated you to take up the Einstein Visiting Fellowship and set up a research group at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain?
I have longstanding collaborations with colleagues in Germany, and especially in Berlin. Many of these have in fact led to scientific publications. So, it seemed logical to put things on a more formal basis.

What is your research topic?
I work on emotion and decision-making, in health and disease. This is a wide brief but is one that is intellectually rich. Arguably, many of the mental pathologies that afflict humans are directly related to this topic and this is of interest to me as a practising psychiatrist.

Which do you see as the challenges of an interdisciplinary study of the mind and brain?
It is one of translation. How do you map one level of description on to that of another.

What classes from undergraduate study do you wish you could still remember or wish you had taken?
Mathematics to a high level, and physics too.

What do you like best about living in Berlin?
I think the city is fascinating, with an extraordinary history. I am deeply impressed with a commitment to deal with this history, rather than bury it. The commitment to the architectural and cultural life of the city especially through visible investment is also impressive. The city also feels very open in all senses of the word, and that includes the most important element – the people.

What do you find most interesting about your research?

The fact one is continuously confronted by new problems and challenges that are never boring.
How would you explain what you do to a non-expert?
I say that I am trying to understand how one bit of the mind works.