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Misunderstanding dopamine: Why the language of addiction matters | Cyrus McCandless

Dopamine is the star of our conversations about motivation and addiction. But journalists, marketers, and app developers alike have missed some critical details. Understanding how dopamine really works to motivate our everyday behaviors--and what goes wrong in drug addiction--is the key to more productive thinking about our 'bad habits,' as well as today's opioid crisis. Since 1992, Dr. Cyrus H. McCandless has specialized in Neuroethology—the study of brain activity during natural behavior and stimulation—with a focus on motivation, goal-directed behavior, navigation and spatial orientation, psycholinguistics, behavioral economics, and decision-making. He's conducted extensive investigations of the networks underlying the structure and causes of behavior and cognition, from neurophysiological studies in awake behaving rats to non-invasive brain imaging in humans, and is the recipient of four competitive federal awards to support his research. Since 2007, he's led comprehensive, multimodal consumer research initiatives for more than 100 household names, and cutting-edge research into the neural bases of narrative comprehension and persuasion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA). Dr. McCandless holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Chicago, where he continued as a Graduate Student at Large prior to conducting primate research at The National Institutes of Health's Laboratory of Comparative Ethology. He earned his MS in Neuroscience and PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Pittsburgh, and Certification in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition; the National Science Foundation’s Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

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