Ahmad Abu-Akel is a cognitive and social neuroscientist, and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychology, University of Lausanne. He received his BA from Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and his PhD from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Dr. Abu-Akel is a Palestinian, originally from the Wadi Ara region of Israel. His interest and involvement in peace building began at age 15 when he started volunteer work as a lecturer and coordinator at the Givaat Haviva Center for Peace, Israel.
In his academic work, Dr. Abu-Akel is credited with introducing the notion that autism and schizophrenia have diametric mentalizing profiles, and is one of the first to introduce a putative neurobiological model of theory mind. His current work seeks to explore how co-occurring autism and psychosis traits affect attentional and socio-cognitive abilities in clinical and healthy populations. He also works on understanding the role of social cognition in intergroup conflicts and dynamics, work that is motivated by his personal experiences as a Palestinian growing up in Israel.
Dr. Abu-Akel is the author and co-author of a number of scientific papers including: Giving peace a chance: Oxytocin increases empathy to pain in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Oxytocin increases empathy to pain when adopting the other- but not the self-perspective; The social saliency hypothesis of oxytocin; And perspective-taking abilities in the balance between autism tendencies and psychosis proneness.