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Neuroscience and dignity: paper by Dr Tara White published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

31 August 2021 Life Members

A new paper by Dr Tara White, a Clare Hall Life Member, has been published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Titled ‘Dignity Neuroscience: Universal rights are rooted in human brain science’, Dr White wrote the first draft of this paper from her office in the Ashby Library here at Clare Hall during her Visiting Fellowship from 2018-19.

The paper, written by Dr White and Meghan A. Gonsalves, explores how universal rights have robust expression in the human brain, noting that ‘agency, autonomy, self-determination, freedom from want, and freedom from fear are essential for human brain health.’

Read the paper in full at

Reflecting on her time at Clare Hall, Dr White noted:

I was deeply impressed by the depth of scholarship and intellectual community at Clare Hall. I was able to witness up-close how generative it is to have a broad set of scholars, across disciplines, living, eating, and interacting in the same college. This exposes you to new ideas, outside your area, on a daily – even hourly – basis. This is not only interesting and motivating, but also incredibly important for creativity, and has sparked a major shift in my thinking about the ways we structure scholarly research and teaching. I have tried to replicate this arrangement to encourage cross-silo pollination in my home institution.

Dr Tara White currently serves as an Assistant Professor (Research) and the founding director of the Laboratory of Affective Neuroscience at Brown University, US. Her scholarly work focuses on two areas: the human neuroscience of emotion, and drug effects in the human brain. Dr White’s work on emotion focuses on structural, functional, and metabolic mechanisms of agency, emotional flexibility, fearlessness, risk-taking, and affiliation; while her work in neuropharmacology focuses on between-person differences in neural, mood, neuroendocrine and behavioural responses to monoaminergic drugs, with special focus on psychostimulants (d-amphetamine, methamphetamine, Adderall).

Dr White received her PhD in developmental psychology from Cornell University in 1998; postdoctoral training in human behavioral psychopharmacology from the University of Chicago in 2002; and postdoctoral training in alcohol and addiction research from Brown University in 2006. She was a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall and the British Academy in 2018, and was named a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in 2019 in recognition of her ‘sustained and outstanding distinguished contributions to psychological science.’