On This Day … 12 July

People (Births)

  • 1947 – Richard C. McCarty, American psychologist and academic.
  • 1959 – Karl J. Friston, English psychiatrist and neuroscientist.

Richard C. McCarthy

Richard C. McCarty (born 12 July 1947) is a professor of psychology and the former provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to serving as provost, he was dean of Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science.

McCarty grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, and earned both his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees from Old Dominion University. He earned his Ph.D. in pathobiology from what is now the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in 1976.

McCarty began his career at the National Institute of Mental Health, where he worked as a research associate in pharmacology. He also served as a lieutenant commander in the US Public Health Service. In 1978, he was appointed assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, where he remained until 1998. During his time at Virginia, he served as chair of the Department of Psychology from 1990-1998.

In 1998, McCarty was named Executive Director for Science at the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., where he helped the APA launch the “Decade of Behaviour”. The Decade of Behaviour, a nickname for the 2000s and successor to the 1990s’ “Decade of the Brain”, was a public education campaign – endorsed by more than 70 professional associations across a variety of disciplines – to bring attention to the importance of behavioural and social science research. McCarty also spent time visiting universities and regional psychological associations to discuss how the APA might better represent psychologists nationally.

Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science named McCarty as its new dean in 2001. In addition to his decanal duties, McCarty taught a psychology seminar for first-year undergraduate students entitled “Stress, Health, and Behaviour” and had a dual appointment in the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine. On 06 May 2008, McCarty was elevated to the university provostship, replacing Nicholas S. Zeppos, who was himself elevated to the university chancery. McCarty stepped down from the position of provost on 30 June 2014; he joined the Vanderbilt Psychology Department faculty after a yearlong leave.

Much of McCarty’s research has centred on behavioural and physiological adaptations to stress, and he has written more than 30 chapters and 150 articles for various publications. In addition, McCarty served as the editor of American Psychologist and was the founding editor-in-chief of Stress. In 2020, his monograph, Stress and Mental Disorders: Insights From Animal Models, was published by Oxford University Press. He is currently working on a textbook, Stress, Health, and Disease, which is under contract with Guilford Press and has an expected publication date of 2022.

Karl J. Friston

Karl John Friston FRS, FMedSci, FRSB, is a British neuroscientist at University College London and an authority on brain imaging. He gained reputation as the main proponent of the free energy principle and predictive coding theory.

Friston studied natural sciences (physics and psychology) at the University of Cambridge in 1980, and completed his medical studies at King’s College Hospital, London.

Friston subsequently qualified under the Oxford University Rotational Training Scheme in Psychiatry, and is now a Professor of Neuroscience at University College London. He is currently a Wellcome Trust Principal Fellow and Scientific Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. He also holds an honorary consultant post at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. He invented statistical parametric mapping: SPM is an international standard for analysing imaging data and rests on the general linear model and random field theory (developed with Keith Worsley). In 1994 his group developed voxel-based morphometry. VBM detects differences in neuroanatomy and is used clinically and as a surrogate in genetic studies.

These technical contributions were motivated by schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning (with Gerry Edelman). In 1995, this work was formulated as the disconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia (with Chris Frith). In 2003, he invented dynamic causal modelling (DCM), which is used to infer the architecture of distributed systems like the brain. Mathematical contributions include variational (generalised) filtering and dynamic expectation maximisation (DEM), which are Variational Bayesian methods for time-series analysis. Friston currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a variational free energy principle (active inference in the Bayesian brain). According to Google Scholar Karl Friston’s h-index is 232.

In 2020 he became a member of Independent SAGE, an independent alternative to the official COVID-19 pandemic government advisory body Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. He has worked on applying his dynamic causal modelling technique and an alternative approach to modelling the pandemic. On 07 April 2021 The Daily Telegraph publicised his work as predicting the United Kingdom would reach herd immunity on 12 April 2021, with a significantly different outcome to other academic pandemic models.

In 1996, Friston received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping, and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999) in recognition of contributions to the bio-medical sciences. In 2000 he was President of the international Organisation for Human Brain Mapping. In 2003 he was awarded the Minerva Golden Brain Award and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006 and received a Collège de France Medal in 2008. In 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of York and became a Fellow of the Society of Biology.

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