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Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award 2011 awarded to Prof. Arne Ohman from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden

6 Apr 2011

The Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award 2011 will be awarded to Professor Arne Öhman from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm (Sweden) during the Opening ceremony of the European Congress of Psychology 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey on Monday July 4, 2011.

In her decision the Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award Committee stated that :

Arne Öhman has made outstanding and widely recognized contributions to psychology by developing a theory of fear, fear acquisition and fear disorder. His research is driven by an evolutionary conception of fear, which builds on the idea that recurring threat situations have shaped the mammalian gene pool to incorporate genes for quick detection and easy association with fear, thus allowing the avoidance of danger. He has developed a new, cognitive science theory of orienting and defense that is widely cited and is guiding the research of a host of investigators. In his own work he has consistently emphasized the importance of “pre-attentive” processing, developing a contemporary, empirical approach to the issues of awareness and consciousness.

His current work is increasingly directed at defining brain circuits that mediate emotional processing, integrating his evolutionary approach with neuroscience, using contemporary imaging methodologies.

Arne Öhman’s academic career has involved extensive contacts across the globe, with an emphasis on Europe and North America. After obtaining his PhD from Uppsala University (Sweden), he worked for several years in the psychophysiology lab of Peter Lang in at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Closely working together with Peter Lang he promoted the collaboration between American and European researchers in the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) and turned the society’s journal Psychophysiology into a key outlet for European researchers. In 2005-2006 he spent a year as invited Fellow at the Center of Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science at Stanford. He is currently one of the principal investigators at the Center of Advanced Study in Emotion and Attention, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, which is directed by Peter Lang.

Arne Öhman is known as a leading and inspirational figure in Europe and North-America. He has actively promoted between research groups from both sides of the Atlantic, and opened doors and encouraged collaboration among different research disciplines. Much of his current work is carried out in collaboration with North American colleagues.

Through his work and his personal endeavors Arne Öhman has had a wide impact in psychology. He did not only contribute to the theory of human emotions, but also translated basic research into clinical settings and stimulating research in anxiety disorders, psychosomatic medicine, and schizophrenic psychosis. Moreover, he contributed to the training of psychologists, e.g. by initiating a novel curriculum at the Karolinska Institute, that is firmly based in biology (e.g. genetics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology). His ideas have influenced various other sciences, including medicine social anthropology and evolutionary biology.

Arne Öhman has published more than 150 articles in international peer reviewed journals, including very high standing ones, such as Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA). He has also published extensively in journals such as Psychological review, Journal of Experimental Psychology: general, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, behavior Research and Therapy, and Psychophysiology. In addition he has published more than 50 chapters in edited books and handbooks. Due to this he has a very strong international standing, with close to 8000 citations in the Web of Science.

The award will be awarded during the Opening Ceremony of the European Congress of Psychology in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday July 4, 2011 (


More information about the Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award can be found here

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