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Gregory S. BernsProfessor of PsychologyDistinguished Professor of NeuroeconomicsDirector, Center for NeuropolicyDirector, Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience (FERN)


Dr. Berns received his A.B. in Physics from Princeton University in 1986, a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Davis in 1990 and an M.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. He completed postdoctoral training in Computational Neuroscience at the Salk Institute and a residency in Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. He joined the faculty of Emory University in 1998. 


Research Interests

Neuroimaging of human decision making. Awake fMRI of dogs. Comparative neurobiology.

Research Areas

My current research uses fMRI to study canine cognitive function in awake, unrestrained dogs. The goals of these projects are to non-invasively map the perceptual and decision systems of the dog's brain and to predict likelihood of success in service dogs. I also use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to reconstruct the white matter pathways of a wide variety of other mammals, including dolphins, sea lions, coyotes, and the extinct Tasmanian tiger.

Previous research was aimed at understanding the neurobiological basis for individual preferences and how neurobiology places constraints on the decisions that people and animals make. We used fMRI to measure the activity in key parts of the brain involved in decision making. For example, we have used this activity to predict the commercial success of popular songs – the first prospective demonstration in neuromarketing. These results have found application in understanding common stock investing errors, and more recently, in the stock market’s reaction to earnings announcements. We have also studied decision-making over “sacred values” in the brain and its implications for terrorism.


  • PSYC 190: Freshman Seminar in Psychology
  • PSYC 385R /NBB 370: Neuroeconomics: Decision Making
  • PSYC 424: Advanced Neuroimaging Practicum
  • PSYC 471S: Dog Psychology
  • PSYC 770R: Advanced Neuroimaging Practicum