Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D. Professor of Neuroscience This Emotional Life - PBS

Experts Biography

Awards and Credentials

  1. MacArthur Fellowship, 1987

Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D.


The main focus of Dr. Sapolsky's work concerns the adverse effects of stress on health. For over 30 years, he has divided his time between the laboratory and fieldwork with baboons in a national park in East Africa. His laboratory work focuses on how stress can damage the nervous system, what role that might have in brain aging, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the damage occurs, and the development of gene therapy approaches to try to save neurons from the effects of stress.

Dr. Sapolsky’s work was among the first to document that chronic stress can damage the hippocampus, a region of the brain central to learning and memory. His research has identified glucocorticoids, a class of “stress hormones," as critical to such threats against the brain. The fieldwork with baboons has a very different focus. Specifically, he has examined what a baboon's social rank, personality, and patterns of social affiliation have to do with which baboons get the stress-related diseases.

Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D.'s Content (Recent - Older)

Positive and negative stress

  • Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D.
  • Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky explains that stress in the form of stimulation is a positive force in our lives, but too much stress can have adverse affects on the brain. He explains how chronic stress affects our memory and decision making, saying that “Your memory goes down the tubes with chronic stress."