LeDoux will formally receive the award, which includes a cash prize of 50,000 euros (approx. $60,000), at a ceremony this March in Paris. The foundation has given the award since 1980.
LeDoux has worked on emotion and memory in the brain for more than 20 years. His research, mostly on fear, shows how we can respond to danger before we know what we are responding to. It has also shed light on how emotional memories are formed and stored in the brain. Through this research, LeDoux has mapped the neural circuits underlying fear and fear memory through the brain, and has identified cells, synapses, and molecules that make emotional learning and memory possible.
In addition to numerous publications in scholarly journals, LeDoux has published books that present his work to a wider audience, including The Emotional Brain (Simon and Schuster, 1998), which focuses mainly on emotion, and Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (Viking, 2002), which casts a broader net into the areas of personality and selfhood. LeDoux obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from Louisiana State University and his doctorate from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. LeDoux is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the New York Academy of Sciences as well as the recipient of numerous awards, the Jean Louis Signoret Prize, given by France's IPSEN Foundation.
TheFyssen Foundation seeks to "encourage all forms of scientific inquiry into cognitive mechanisms, including thought and reasoning, which underlie animal and human behavior; their biological and cultural bases, and phylogenetic and ontogenetic development."