Dr. Jaak Panksepp (1943 – 2017) was known worldwide as the father of “affective neuroscience,” a field of study that examines the neurobiological basis of emotions. His early work was performed at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, but in 2006 he moved to WSU to accept the Bernice and Joseph Baily Chair in Animal Well-Being in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Panksepp’s internationally recognized work focused on the nature of the basic emotional systems of the mammalian brain, with the most recent work devoted to analyzing the brain mechanisms that mediate separation distress and social bonding. His discovery of the nature of social joy by studying the psychobiological controls of juvenile playfulness and the accompanying laughter-type sounds has redefined many of the current models of animal emotion understanding. Dr. Panksepp’s later work was aimed at deepening and broadening our understanding of these systems biologically as well as exploring the consequences of this knowledge for understanding animal and human mental health issues.