Washington State University

Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience

Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.


Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science and

Professor, Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience (IPN), Washington State University

Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Psychology,
Bowling Green State University

Head, Affective Neuroscience Research, Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, Northwestern University

Phone: (509) 335-5803
Email: jpanksepp@vetmed.wsu.edu
Office: VBR rm 111


Full CV

EEGs (ERD analysis of Panksepp's brain emotional dynamics



Research Interests


Our present research is devoted to the analysis of the neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms of emotional behaviors (in the emerging fields of affective and social neurosciences), with a focus on understanding how various affective processes are evolutionarily organized in the brain, and looking for linkages to psychiatric disorders and drug addiction. We conduct research on brain "instinctual" mechanisms of fear, anger, separation distress (panic), investigatory processes an anticipatory eagerness, as well as rough-and-tumble play. We are especially interested in how various brain neuropeptide systems regulate emotional feelings and social bonds. Prior to the ongoing work on emotional systems, we studied hypothalamic mechanisms of energy balance control and neural regulation of sleep-waking states. In addition to 300+ scientific articles (see CV, link below), I have co-edited the multivolume Handbook of the Hypothalamus and of Emotions and Psychopathology, a series in Advances in Biological Psychiatry and a Textbook of Biological Psychiatry (Wiley, 2004). My other textbook, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Oxford, 1998), has helped inaugurate a new field of inquiry which attempts to probe the affective infrastructure of the mammalian brain.

Our working assumption is that all of consciousness was built on affective value systems during the long course of brain evolution. In my new book, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions (in press), I present these topics to a wider, more general audience and include discussion of current research in affective neuroscience. Our research orientation is that a detailed understanding of basic emotional systems at the neural level will highlight the basic sources of human values and the nature and genesis of emotional disorders in humans. In the 1980s we helped developed the still controversial opioid-antagonist therapy for autistic children based on pre-clinical investigations into brain circuits that control social behaviors (http://www.autism-help.org/points-brain-chemistry-autism.htm) as well as the use of melatonin in regulating common sleep-waking problems in pervasive developmental disorder (http://legacy.autism.com/treatable/supplement/melatonin.htm). We are pursuing new therapies for the treatment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD), and depression. Many of the findings from animal models are ready to be evaluated in human psychological research. Accordingly, we are seeking to facilitate the development of new depth-psychological perspectives to understanding the human mind.

Our Center for the Study of Animal Well Being (http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-CSAW/) and People-Pet Partnership Program (http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-pppp/), are devoted to the study and improvement of animal emotional well-being.

Please see related story in WSU Today for more biography of Dr. Panksepp 

Selected References:

(See CV for complete list)

Panksepp, J. (2011). Empathy and the Laws of Affect. Science, 334, 1358-1359.
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Panksepp J, Burgdorf J. (2000). 50k-Hz chirping (laughter) in response to conditioned and unconditioned tickle-induced reward in rats: effects of social housing and genetic variables. Behavioral Brain Research, 115: 25-38.

Panksepp J, Burgdorf J, Gordon N, Turner C. (2003). Modeling ADHD-type arousal with unilateral frontal cortex damage in rats and beneficial effects of play therapy. Brain and Cognition 52: 97-105.

Panksepp J, Burgdorf J, Beinfeld MC, Kroes RA, Moskal JR. (2004). Regional brain cholecystokinin changes as a function of friendly and aggressive social interactions in rats. Brain Research 1025: 75—84.

Panksepp J, Nocjar C, Burgdorf J, Panksepp JB, Huber R. (2004). The role of emotional systems in addiction: A neuroethological perspective. In: R.A. Bevins & M.T. Bardo (eds.) 50th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: Motivational Factors in the Etiology of Drug Abuse, Lincoln: Nebraska, pp. 85-126.

Panksepp, J. (2006). Emotional endophenotypes in evolutionary psychiatry. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 30, 774-784.

Panksepp J, Burgdorf J, Beinfeld MC, Kroes R, Moskal J. (2007). Brain regional neuropeptide changes resulting from social defeat. Behavioral Neuroscience 121: 1364-1371.

Northoff G, Schneider F, Rotte M, Matthiae C, Tempelmann C, Wiebking C, Bermpohl F, Heinzel A, Danos P, Heinze HJ, Bogerts B, Walter M, Panksepp J. (2009). Differential parametric modulation of self-relatedness and emotions in different brain regions. Human Brain Mapping 30, 369-382.

Fuchs T, Iacobucci P, MacKinnon KM, Panksepp J. (2010). Infant-mother recognition in a social rodent (Octodon degus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 124(2), 166-175.

Panksepp J. (2010). Affective neuroscience of the emotional BrainMind: evolutionary perspectives and implications for understanding depression. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 12, 389-399.

Panksepp J, Watt J. (2011). Why does depression hurt? Ancestral primary-process separation-distress (PANIC) and diminished brain reward (SEEKING) processes in the genesis of depressive affect. Psychiatry 74, 5-14.

Colonnello, V., Iacobucci, P., Anderson, M.P., & Panksepp, J. (2011). Brief periods of positive peer interactions mitigate the effects of total social isolation in young Octodon degus. Devlopmental Psychobiology 2010 Dec 22. [Epub ahead of print].

Biographical Information

Born in Tartu, Estonia, Jaak Panksepp has authored and/or edited 11 books and over 330 journal articles and reviews. He received his Ph.D. in 1969 from University of Massachusetts (Amherst), did two years of post-doctoral work in nutrition and body energy balance at the School of Biology, University of Sussex, and a year in sleep physiology at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (Massachusetts), before joining the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University (Ohio). In January of 2006 he joined the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience and CSAW as the Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science.

Teaching Expertise and Interests

  • Brain Mechanisms of Behavior/ Affective Neuroscience
  • Developmental Psychobiology/ Developmental Disorders
  • Psychobiology of Emotions and Motivations
  • Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology and Neuropsychology
  • Clinical Psychopharmacology/ Biological Psychiatry
  • Experimental Methods

Recent Honors and Awards

  • Lifetime achievement award from National Institute of Play (2008)
  • The Oscar Sternbach Memorial Award from the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis for "Outstanding dedication and contributions to the field of psychoanalysis" (2009)
  • The Glass Slipper Award from the International Experiential Dynamic Therapy Association (2010)
  • The Order of the White Star, Government of Estonia (2011)
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