Emile Bruneau is a social and cognitive scientist and a leading expert in the field of empathy neuroscience. He was recently a research scientist at the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT and is currently a research associate and lecturer at the Annenberg School, UPenn for Communication. Dr. Bruneau holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. Prior to his formal training in neuroscience, Dr. Bruneau worked, traveled and lived in a number of conflict regions: South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to Democracy, Sri Lanka during one of the largest Tamil Tiger strikes in that nation's history, Ireland during "The Troubles", Israel/Palestine around the Second Intifada.
Dr. Bruneau is now working to bring the tools of science to bear on the problem of intergroup conflict by (1) building methods to better characterize the (often unconscious) cognitive biases that drive conflict using explicit, implicit and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, and (2) critically evaluating efforts aimed at transcending these biases. These efforts have focused on three psychological processes relevant to intergroup conflict: empathy, dehumanization and motivated reasoning, and involve target groups that are embroiled in intractable conflict (e.g., Israelis and Palestinians), or subject to extreme hostility (e.g., Muslims in the U.S., the Roma in Europe).
Dr. Bruneau is the author and co-author of a number of scientific papers including: Putting Neuroscience to work for Peace in Understanding the social psychology of intractable conflicts: The Israeli-Palestinian case and beyond, A tribute to the legacy of Daniel BarTal; The Ascent of Man: A Theoretical and Empirical Case for Blatant Dehumanization; Empathic control through coordinated interaction of amygdala, theory of mind and extended pain matrix brain regions; Us and Them: Intergroup Failures of Empathy and others.
He is the 2015 recipient of the Beyond Conflict Innovation Fellowship, as well as the Ed Cairns Early Career Award of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Division of Peace Psychology, American Psychological Association.