Neural adaptations in response to selection for reduced or increased aggression

The Wenner-Gren Foundation  (PI: E. Hecht; Co-PI: T. Preuss)
$19,600  January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2018

This research tests long-standing anthropological hypotheses about evolutionary pressures that may have shaped our human ancestors’ behavior and brain morphology.  High-resolution MRI and DTI scans will be used to pinpoint neural systems that respond to selection pressure for or against aggression using a highly specific experimental model, foxes selectively bred for either reduced or increased aggression.  Identified neural systems will then be examined in humans and in our closest living primate relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees.    

Collaborative Research: NCS-FO: Individual Variation, Plasticity, and Learning in Human Brain Evolution

NSF 1631563  (PI: E. Hecht; Co-PIs: D. Stout, T. Preuss, D. Gutman, A. Kruger)
$970,704  July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019

This project investigates the evolutionary mechanisms and contemporary processes underlying human technological learning, including factors which may mediate individual differences in technological learning.  This is a multi-institution project involving Georgia State University (lead) and Emory University.

Effects of oxytocin on brain, behavior and social development

NIMH R01 MH104534  (PI: L. Parr)
$203,148 February 1, 2016 – January 31, 2020

This grant examines the effects of repeated oxytocin administration on social behavior and neural development in infant monkeys.  E. Hecht’s subaward supports longitudinal analysis of neuroimaging data in these monkeys.

Neuroanatomical correlates of individual variation in cooperation and inequity aversion in capuchin monkeys

Brains and Behavior Program Seed Grant, Georgia State University
PI: E. Hecht; Co-PI: S. Brosnan
$27,650.70  July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017

This seed grant funds in vivo MRI and DTI imaging in capuchin monkeys in order to identify neuroanatomical correlates of individual variation in prosocial behavior.

Collaborative Research: NSF-IOS: Impact of Selection Pressure for Social Behavior on Canid Brain Evolution

NSF 1457291  (Co-PIs: D. Gutman, M. Kent, E. Hecht, T. Preuss, S. Sakai)
$532,390  August 1, 2015 – July 31, 2018

This multi-institution grant between Emory University (lead institution), Georgia State University, and University of Georgia-Athens will use behavioral tests, in vivo neuroimaging, and post mortem neuroimaging to investigate neuroanatomical adaptations resulting from selection pressure for social approach and social avoidance in several breeds of domestic dogs and in domesticated foxes.

Neural markers of training success and resilience to combat stress in military working dogs

The Emory University Research Committee (Lead PI: T. Preuss; Co-PIs: D. Gutman, E. Hecht) – $37,139.10

This pilot grant funds high-resolution post mortem DTI and T2 neuroimaging on fixed brains from 20 military working dogs, to serve as preliminary data in preparation for a larger DoD proposal.  The research goal is to identify neural markers associated with anxiety, aggression, and PTSD-like symptoms related to training and/or deployment.

RCN Laboratory Exchange Award from the Research Coordination Network on the Genetics and Genomics of Social Behavior

(RCN PI: W. Wilczynski NSF IOS 1256839; Exchange Award to E. Hecht, $4,959)

The award is intended to advance imaging technology for a new collaboration testing MRI imaging in different species. The award provides for imaging costs at the Biomedical Imaging Technology Center at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The Prosocial Brain: Evolution of the Human Capacity for Empathy, Compassion and Cooperation

The Templeton Foundation 40463 (Lead PI: E. Albers; Co-PIs: T. King, D. Robins, T. Preuss, J. Rilling)

This multi-lab grant funds research on the neural basis of prosocial behaviors in monkeys, apes, and humans. The funded postdoctoral research associate position involves fMRI and DTI studies on the neural and behavioral correlates of empathy with comparisons to related nonhuman primate data.

Learning to Be Human: Skill Acquisition and the Development of the Human Brain

The Leverhulme Trust F/00 144/BP (Lead PI: B. Bradley)

This grant funds research on the neural, behavioral, and motor correlates of Paleolithic stone toolmaking skills. The funded postdoctoral research position focuses on structural changes to white and gray matter with comparisons to related fMRI and FDG-PET functional activations.

Neural Correlates of Action Perception: Brain Structure, Function, and Behavior

NIMH/NIH Predoctoral NRSA F31 MH086179-03

The predoctoral NRSA covers graduate tuition, fees, benefits, stipend, and travel expenses. This project compares behavior, functional brain responses (FDG-PET), and anatomical connectivity (DTI) in brain systems for social perception in macaques, chimpanzees, and humans. Its goal is to identify uniquely human neural features that may underlie uniquely human disorders of social cognition, like autism and schizophrenia.

Neural Adaptations Underlying the Evolution of Social Learning and Imitation

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation ($15,000)
Osmundsen Initiative Award, Wenner-Gren Foundation ($5,000)
05/2010 – 07/2012

The Dissertation Fieldwork Grant provides research funding for topics on human evolution. The Osmundsen Initiative Award is additional, competitive research funding for projects that make a significant contribution to broader social or intellectual issues. This project compared the anatomical connectivity of the mirror system in macaques, chimpanzees, and humans in order to understand the evolution of the neural basis of social learning.

The Neural Foundations of Human Tool Use

Pilot Grant, Emory Center for Systems Imaging ($12,000; PI: Dietrich Stout)
04/2012 – 07/2012

CSI Pilot grants provide research funding for neuroimaging. This project acquired FDG-PET functional scans and T1-weighted MRI structural scans in humans during the observation of hand actions and tool use. This provided a directly comparable dataset to chimpanzees, in order to elucidate the evolution of the neural bases for tool use.

Division Scholar Fellowship

Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Emory University
09/2006 – 09/2011

The Division Scholar Fellowship provides a $2,000 supplement to the standard Division stipend for five years.

NIMGS Training Grant

NIMGS/NIH T32 GM008605
09/2007 – 09/2008

The NIMGS Training Grant supports graduate tuition, fees, benefits, stipend, and travel expenses. It also provided for the invitation of Nancy Kanwisher, Ph.D., a leading researcher in face perception neuroimaging, to a seminar series at Emory.

US Grants Student Research Grant

University of California, San Diego
01/2006 – 04/2006

This project investigated the role of the mu rhythm of the electroencephalogram in socio-cognitive functions that have been linked to autism, including facial expression perception, action understanding, and theory of mind, in typically developing subjects.

Chancellor’s Research Scholarship

University of California, San Diego
06/2005 – 09/2005

This project investigated training of the mu rhythm of the electroencephalogram as a possible therapy for autism.

William H. Stout Scholarship

University of California, San Diego
09/2004 – 06/2005

National Merit Scholarship

University of California, San Diego
09/2002 – 06/2006