Holocaust survivors' testimonies aid neuroscience research

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 12:00am

Glenn Fox, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at the University of Southern California, visited the USC Shoah Foundation Institute on May 17 to discuss how he used testimony from the Visual History Archive for his research on gratitude.

After receiving contextual information about the Holocaust, participants in Fox’s study are asked to imagine themselves in situations that Holocaust survivors described in their testimonies, such as receiving food or other forms of aid. In addition to answering questions about how they might feel in these situations, the participants undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure heart rate and brain activity, making Fox’s study the first to measure the physiological effects of gratitude. He will continue his research this summer as one of the Institute’s 2012 Student Fellows.