2014 William James Fellow Award

Terry E. Robinson

University of Michigan

Terry E. Robinson, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan, is among the most productive and influential biopsychologists and behavioral neuroscientists. Robinson’s work has provided a framework for an entirely new way to understand addictive behavior as a consequence of normal reward-related processes gone awry. His work has outlined how addiction to psychostimulants occurs and why it is so difficult to reverse. Robinson’s theory of incentive salience differentiates between behavior that occurs because individuals truly want something (whether they like it or not) and whether they like something. This theory not only explains drug-taking behavior at the onset of addiction, but also, more importantly, it explains recidivism.

Robinson’s impact can be seen in every aspect of a scientist’s intellectual life. Robinson has published over 180 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, with a total citation rate of more than 16,000. He has been recognized with numerous awards for his research and service. He has taken on important leadership roles in national societies, the government, and key journals. He is a dedicated mentor to countless students, many of whom are now accomplished scientists in their own right. Today, Robinson is focused on the brain mechanisms that underlie addiction, with a special emphasis on the neuroadaptations produced by psychostimulants and the role of these neuroadaptations in the development and maintenance of addictive behavior. The implications of this work on understanding both healthy and disordered behavior patterns are profound.