You and Your Racist Brain: the Neuroscience of Prejudice

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Racism exists when one group dominates, excludes, or seeks to eliminate another group on the basis of differences that it believes are inherent, hereditary, and unalterable. In large part, racism stems from the human brain’s tendency to engage in prejudice, a process that allows our brains to make judgments based on visual information in milliseconds. These preconceived opinions about other people are not based on reason or experience but on instinct — and they have a basis in neuroscience. But why does the brain do this? More importantly, can we use what we known about the neuroscience of prejudice to overcome this reaction, potentially developing methods to combat prejudice and end racism?

Join Dr. Larry Sherman, a Professor of Neuroscience at the Oregon Health & Science University, who will explain how our brains react to people who are “different” and explore possible ways to overcome the automatic prejudice that contributes to racism in our society.

About the Speaker:

Dr Larry Sherman has given hugely popular talks and performances around the globe on topics that include music and the brain, the neuroscience of pleasure and love, the neuroscience of racism, the neuroscience of post-traumatic stress disorder, and how genes and environment contribute to brain development and personality.

He is a Professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology and in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the Oregon Health & Science University and the Oregon National Primate Research Center. He is also the President of the Oregon Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. He has over 80 publications related to brain development and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. He serves on a number of national scientific review panels for the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Programs, and others.

Dr Sherman has made numerous television appearances, discussing various topics related to neuroscience. He was invited by John Frohnmayer, former head of the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, to serve on a panel discussing the origins of creativity that was filmed for the U.S. Public Broadcasting System. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and Portland Monthly Magazine recognized Dr. Sherman as one of the most innovative people in the State of Oregon. He was the 2012 Teacher of the Year at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

Presented at the Royal Society of Victoria in partnership with RMIT University’s School of Health & Biomedical Sciences as a part of National Science Week.