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Honda Prize Laureates

* Information concerning affiliation/post/profile of the laureate is current at the time he/she received the prize.

Commemorative lecture PDF

The Honda Foundation, co-founded by Soichiro Honda and his younger brother Benjiro Honda and currently headed by Hiromori Kawashima, is pleased to announce that the Honda Prize*1 for the year 2010 will be awarded to Dr. Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, U.S.A., for his pioneering efforts and remarkable contributions in the world of neuroscience. Dr. Damasio will be the 31st laureate of the Honda Prize.

Damasio first obtained the basis for this theory from his case studies of neurological patients with damage in brain regions related to emotion, such as the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. He found that the patients had defects of judgment and inappropriate social behavior which were caused by their inability to respond emotionally to the content of their thoughts. These early findings were later investigated with the tools of cognitive neuroscience, including experimental functional brain imaging.

Dr. Damasio’s other work on the neural basis of the emotions led him to propose that the brain’s insula was the cortical platform for the processing of emotional feelings, a hypothesis that has been widely confirmed. In turn, his work on feelings has been applied to the problem of how the self and the conscious mind are constructed.

As the main route of inquiry into the human mind shifts from philosophy to science, Dr. Damasio’s research stands at the forefront. It has inspired one neuroscientist after another, and created a new trend of cross-disciplinary projects with scholars from philosophy, neuropsychology, cognitive science, psychiatry, biology, economics, education and the arts. These collaborative efforts are expected to have an impact in the management of brain diseases such as depression and psychopathy, and in the elucidation of social behaviors.

Dr. Damasio is married to his longtime collaborator, Dr. Hanna Damasio, who is a renowned specialist in brain imaging.

Thanks to Dr. Damasio’s intellectual bravery and truly original thinking, we can now think of emotions along the same lines with which we understand vision or audition, and thus reach a much deeper understanding of the brain basis for mind and consciousness. Without a doubt such understanding is one of the vital steps toward a knowledge society. We believe Dr. Damasio’s achievements measure up to the ideals of ecotechnology, and deserve the Honda Prize.

The 31st award ceremony for the Honda Prize was held at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on November 17th 2010. In addition to the prize diploma and medal, 10 million yen was awarded to the laureate.

*1 Honda Prize: The Honda Prize was established in 1980 as the first international scientific award in Japan. Since then, the Prize has been counted as one of the most important international awards by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards. The Prize has been awarded to some of the most distinguished scholars at work in the fields of biology and technology.

*2 Ecotechnology: The concept of Ecotechnology has been the Honda Foundation’s guiding principle since 1979. The word was coined from the terms ecology and technology, where ecology connotes an entire global system which includes human civilization. The concept of ecotechnology calls for the harmonious development and use of technology with human beings and their environment.

Born in Lisbon, Portugal ; U.S. citizen

1969 MD, University of Lisbon Medical School, Portugal
1974 PhD, University of Lisbon, Portugal

2006 -

Present University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, U.S. ; David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, and Director, Brain and Creativity Institute
1975 - 2005
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, U.S. ; Van Allen Distinguished Professor
1989 -
Present Adjunct Professor, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, U.S.

Damasio is the author of over 350 scientific publications and of seven books, among them Descartes’ Error, The Feeling of What Happens, and Looking for Spinoza. His most recent book is Self Comes to Mind, which will be published this fall.



Elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science
Elected to the Academy of Sciences, Lisbon
Elected to Bavarian Academy of Sciences
Elected to the Association of American Physicians
Elected to Permanent Membership, Belgium's Royal Society of Medicine
Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
Elected to the European Academy of Arts and Sciences

Honorary Degrees

Doctor Honoris Causa (D. Phil. H.C.), University of Leiden
Doctor Honoris Causa (D. Merc. H.C.), University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen Business School)
Doctor Honoris Causa (D. Phil. H.C.), University of Aveiro
Doctor Honoris Causa (D. Phil. H.C.), University of Aachen


Richard Wollheim Prize, London
Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research
Signoret Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience (shared with Hanna Damasio)
Nonino Prize
Named “Highly Cited Researcher” in Neuroscience by the Institute for Scientific Information
The Reenpaa Prize, Finland
Prix Plasticite Neuronale, Ipsen Foundation
Golden Brain Award (Berkeley)
Order of Santiago da Espada (Grand Oficial), Portugal
Pessoa Prize (shared with Hanna Damasio)

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