Berns, Gregory S.

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Berns, Gregory S.

PERSONAL: Married; children. Education: Princeton University, A.B. (with honors), 1986; University of California, Davis, Ph.D., 1990; University of California, San Diego, M.D., 1994.

ADDRESSES: Home—Atlanta, GA. Office—Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 101 Woodruff Circle, Ste. 4000, Atlanta, GA 30328. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Comprehensive Substance Abuse Services of Westmoreland County, Greensburg, PA, supervising physician, 1997–98; Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, GA, program physician in drug dependency unit, 1998–2001; Emory University, Atlanta, assistant professor, 1998–2002, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, 2002–. Associate director, Magnetic Resonance Research Center. Lecturer at seminars and conferences; guest on radio and television programs.

MEMBER: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society for Neuroscience, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuroeconomics Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Institutes of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award, 1996; Society of Biological Psychiatry/Lilly Fellowship Award, 1997; Organon Excellence in Psychiatry Residency Award, 1998; Senior Travel Award, Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 1999; American Psychiatric Association/SmithKline Beecham Young Faculty Award, 1999; grant from National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, 2000–04; Dean's Clinical Investigator Award, Emory University School of Medicine, 2001–04; grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1999–2004; 2003–08; grants from National Institute of Mental Health, 1999–2004, 2003–08.


Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment (nonfiction), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to journals, including Neuron, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, and American Journal of Psychiatry.

SIDELIGHTS: Gregory S. Berns examines the neuroscience behind the feeling of satisfaction in his book, Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment. According to Berns, satisfaction does not result from pleasurable experience so much as from any experience that is novel. To illustrate his point, the author visited a sadomasochist club, a one-hundred-mile "megamarathon," a crossword-puzzle contest, and a master chef. Berns explored the science behind the brain's reaction to new situations with experiments using MRI scanning. He concluded that people are built to seek out new experiences, and that feelings of satisfaction arise from facing any novel situation because they trigger the release of the neurochemical dopamine. Familiarity with any situation leads to alterations in brain chemistry that produce a sense of boredom. "This will be a highly satisfying read for anyone interested in what gets us out of bed in the morning day after day," said a Publishers Weekly writer. Juliet Waters, a contributor to Montreal Mirror online faulted Berns for not pursuing the question of "whether or not the single-minded pursuit of satisfaction is either possible or even desirable." She conceded, however, that, "if nothing else, anyone who reads this book will benefit … even if one might not always agree with Berns." As Gilbert Taylor concluded in Booklist, "Readers interested in psychology will find Berns to be accessible, insightful, and comradely."



Booklist, August, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment, p. 1969.

Fortune, August 22, 2005, John Simons, review of Satisfaction, p. 119.

Publishers Weekly, July 11, 2005, review of Satisfaction, p. 78.

U.S. News and World Report, August 29, 2005, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, review of Satisfaction.


Emory University Computation and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab Web site, (November 11, 2005), author profile.

Montreal Mirror Online, (November 14, 2005), Juliet Waters, review of Satisfaction.