Steven R. Quartz
Professor of Philosophy
Steven R. Quartz's research uses advances and methods in neuroscience to probe fundamental problems of the mind. This focuses on the brain's value systems and how they interact with culture to create our moral, political, and economic lives. His broader goal is to incorporate these tools into novel approaches to the humanities and social sciences.
Quartz uses advances in neuroscience to understand fundamental questions of the mind. By integrating these advances into a broad interdisciplinary perspective, his goal is to understand how neural systems interact with culture to create our moral, political, and economic lives. For example, he has probed how brain systems that evolved to solve central problems of social life drive contemporary consumer culture. His research uses a variety of techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), computational modeling, and experimental neurobiology. At the lowest levels of decision making, his research has shown that sensory integration—deciding whether visual and auditory information comes from a single source—is statistically optimal from a Bayesian perspective. At the level of social interaction, his research has used a novel fMRI approach called hyperscanning, in which several people are scanned while interacting in real time, to study the neural correlates of trust, strategic choice, and how social influences profoundly affect the expression of IQ.
He is currently completing a book, Rescuing Happiness, which uses this interdisciplinary perspective to both thoroughly critique contemporary happiness science and to provide a new foundation for understanding happiness that is based on how multiple brain systems perspective. A major goal of this approach is to go beyond hedonic, or pleasure-based approaches, to better appreciate the motivational structure of the brain's goal-system and its relation to non-hedonic aspects of achievement and self-actualization. Based on a novel account of human needs that emerges from this project, Quartz is also examining how human welfare, economic development, and resource use have been historically intermingled and the extent to which human welfare and its equitable distribution is consistent with the imperatives of sustainability. This is the subject of a second book project, The Future of Happiness.
Quartz has received numerous grants and awards throughout his career. He was the principal investigator of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant-supported program, which provided students with the analytic foundations and the experimental skills needed to pursue careers at the intersection of neuroscience and the social sciences. Quartz was previously a Sloan Research Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, and has also received major grants from The Packard Foundation and the Templeton Foundation. He is the coauthor of Liars, Lovers, and Heroes: What the New Brain Science Reveals About How We Become Who We Are and Cool: How the Brain's Quest for Cool Drives our Economy and Shapes Our World. He has also published numerous articles and op-eds in such venues as The New York Times and The Atlantic.
- Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, Edge Foundation
- Quartz, S.R. Rescuing Happiness (forthcoming).
- Quartz, S.R. and Asp, A. (2015) Cool: How the Brain's Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Quartz, S.R. and Asp, A. Unequal Yet Happy, The New York Times, April 11, 2015.
- Kishida, K., Yang, D., Quartz, K., Quartz, S.R., Montague, P.R. (2012). Implicit signals in small group settings and their impact on the expression of cognitive capacity and associated brain responses. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B, 367:704-716.
- Bruguier, A., Quartz, S.R., Bossearts, P., (2010). Exploring the Nature of "Trader Intuition." Journal of Finance, 5: 1703-1723.
- Quartz, S.R. (2009). Reason, Emotion, and Decision-Making: Risk and Reward Computation with Feeling. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 13(5). 209-215.
- Beierholm, U., Quartz, S.R., Shams, L. (2009) Bayesian Priors Are Encoded Independently from Likelihoods in Human Multisensory Perception. Journal of Vision 9.5.
- Hsu, M., Anen, C., and Quartz, S.R. (2008). The Right and the Good: Distributive Justice and Neural Encoding of Equity and Efficiency. Science, May 8, 2008.
- Kording, P. Beierholm, U., Ma, W.J., Quartz, S.R, Tenenbaum, J., Shams, L. (2007). Causal inference in multisensory perception. Public Library of Science (PLoS One), 2(9).
- Preuschoff, K., Bossaerts, P., and Quartz, S.R. (2006). Human Insula Reflects Risk Predictions Errors as Well as Risk. Journal of Neuroscience 28(11).
- Preuschoff, K., Bossaerts, P., and Quartz, S.R. (2006). Neural Differentiation of Expected Reward and Risk in Human Subcortical Structures. Neuron. 51:381-90.
- Tomlin, D., Kayali, M.A., Anen, C., King-Casas, B., Camerer, C., Quartz, S.R., Montague, P.R. (2006). Agent-specific responses in the cingulate cortex during economic exchanges. Science. 312:1047-50.
- King-Casas, B., Tomlin, D., Anen, C., Camerer, C., Quartz, S.R., and Montague, P.R. (2005). Getting to Know You: Reputation and trust in a two-person economic exchange. Science. 308: 78-83.
- Quartz, S.R. and Sejnowski, T. (1997). The Neural Basis of Cognitive Development: A Constructivist Manifesto, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4:537-56.