James Room, 4th floor Barnard Hall
Peter D. Balsam, Professor of Psychology and Samuel R. Milbank Chair
All thought and behavior is organized in time. Everything we do—from picking up a glass of water to the daily rhythms of eating and sleeping—relies on timed signals from the body and brain that convey information about the right time to do it. The mechanisms of our brains allow us to organize the temporal structure of our actions and physiology on scales ranging from milliseconds to days. Like the air we breathe, we are not often aware of time, but it is the infrastructure for all our everyday functions. When these mechanisms become disordered or fail to offer temporal information to guide our behavior, it can contribute to the symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, and substance abuse. Professor Balsam’s recent work focuses on how anticipation underlies motivated action, research that can be harnessed to suggest new treatment strategies.
Peter D. Balsam, Professor of Psychology and Samuel R. Milbank Chair, joined the Barnard faculty in 1975. He teaches such courses as Animal Cognition; Introduction to Statistics; Psychology of Learning; Senior Research Seminars; and Theories of Learning.
Professor Balsam seeks to understand how animals use temporal information to solve problems in flexible ways. His ongoing projects investigate the way that time is perceived, encoded and retrieved by animals and how this information guides their decisions about whether, when, and how to respond. He studies the brain mechanisms that underlie this very important aspect of adaptive behavior.
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