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Jeffrey H. Schwartz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the neuroscientist and psychiatrist, see Jeffrey M. Schwartz.

Jeffrey Hugh Schwartz, PhD, (born March 6, 1948) is an American physical anthropologist[1] and professor of biological anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a fellow and President of the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) from 2008-2012.

Schwartz' research involves the methods, theories, and philosophies in evolutionary biology, including the origins and diversification of primates. He has studied and analyzed human and primate skeletons and archaeological remains, focusing much of his research on dentofacial morphology. He has done substantial fieldwork and museum research in the collections of major museums around the globe.

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  • How does your brain respond to pain? - Karen D. Davis
  • Evidence of Evolution:
  • Genetic Markers of Cardiovascular Disease - H. Robert Superko, M.D.


Let's say that it would take you ten minutes to solve this puzzle. How long would it take if you received constant electric shocks to your hands? Longer, right? Because the pain would distract you from the task. Well, maybe not; it depends on how you handle pain. Some people are distracted by pain. It takes them longer to complete a task, and they do it less well. Other people use tasks to distract themselves from pain, and those people actually do the task faster and better when they're in pain than when they're not. Some people can just send their mind wandering to distract themselves from pain. How can different people be subjected to the exact same painful stimulus and yet experience the pain so differently? And why does this matter? First of all, what is pain? Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Pain is something we experience, so it's best measured by what you say it is. Pain has an intensity; you can describe it on a scale from zero, no pain, to ten, the most pain imaginable. But pain also has a character, like sharp, dull, burning, or aching. What exactly creates these perceptions of pain? Well, when you get hurt, special tissue damage-sensing nerve cells, called nociceptors, fire and send signals to the spinal cord and then up to the brain. Processing work gets done by cells called neurons and glial. This is your grey matter. And brain superhighways carry information as electrical impulses from one area to another. This is your white matter. The superhighway that carries pain information from the spinal cord to the brain is our sensing pathway that ends in the cortex, a part of the brain that decides what to do with the pain signal. Another system of interconnected brain cells called the salience network decides what to pay attention to. Since pain can have serious consequences, the pain signal immediately activates the salience network. Now, you're paying attention. The brain also responds to the pain and has to cope with these pain signals. So, motor pathways are activated to take your hand off a hot stove, for example. But modulation networks are also activated that deliver endorphins and enkephalins, chemicals released when you're in pain or during extreme exercise, creating the runner's high. These chemical systems help regulate and reduce pain. All these networks and pathways work together to create your pain experience, to prevent further tissue damage, and help you to cope with pain. This system is similar for everyone, but the sensitivity and efficacy of these brain circuits determines how much you feel and cope with pain. This is why some people have greater pain than others and why some develop chronic pain that does not respond to treatment, while others respond well. Variability in pain sensitivities is not so different than all kinds of variability in responses to other stimuli. Like how some people love roller coasters, but other people suffer from terrible motion sickness. Why does it matter that there is variability in our pain brain circuits? Well, there are many treatments for pain, targeting different systems. For mild pain, non-prescription medications can act on cells where the pain signals start. Other stronger pain medicines and anesthetics work by reducing the activity in pain-sensing circuits or boosting our coping system, or endoprhins. Some people can cope with pain using methods that involve distraction, relaxation, meditation, yoga, or strategies that can be taught, like cognitive behavioral therapy. For some people who suffer from severe chronic pain, that is pain that doesn't go away months after their injury should've healed, none of the regular treatments work. Traditionally, medical science has been about testing treatments on large groups to determine what would help a majority of patients. But this has usually left out some who didn't benefit from the treatment or experienced side effects. Now, new treatments that directly stimulate or block certain pain-sensing attention or modulation networks are being developed, along with ways to tailor them to individual patients, using tools like magnetic resonance imaging to map brain pathways. Figuring out how your brain responds to pain is the key to finding the best treatment for you. That's true personalized medicine.


Work, research, and recognitions

In the revised and updated publication of ''The Red Ape: Orangutans and Human Origins'', he presents additional evidence for his contention that orangutans share significantly more morphological similarities to humans than any other great ape.[2] His claim is invalidated in light of molecular evidence showing the chimpanzees and gorillas to be more closely related to humans.

He has also been a major contributor to the George Washington project, an attempt to create wax figure likenesses of the first U.S. President at the ages of 19, 45, and 57, based upon dentofacial morphology.[3] Scheduled for public display in 2006 in a new education center and museum at Mount Vernon, the models also went on a 9-city national tour to promote the museum.[4]

Since 1998 he serves as a consultant in forensic anthropology to the Allegheny County coroner's office.[1]

In 2007 he was elected President of the World Academy of Art and Science for a five-year term (one year as president-elect). He was the first person so elected, all previous presidents having been directly appointed by trustees of the organization.[5]


Born March 6, 1948 in Richmond, Virginia, Schwartz earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia College in 1969 and completed his doctorate from Columbia University in 1974.[1]


Schwartz is the son of Jack Schwartz, a doctor who did quinine research during World War II, and Lillian Schwartz, one of the earliest visual artists to utilize computer imaging.[6] He is married to the poet Lynn Emanuel and they reside in Pittsburgh.

Major works

  • The Human Fossil Record (4 volume set) (with Ian Tattersall et al.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. 2005. ISBN 0-471-67864-3. 
  • The Red Ape: Orangutans and Human Origins (Revised and Updated edition). Boulder: Westview Press. 2005. ISBN 0-471-32985-1. 
  • Extinct Humans (with Ian Tattersall). Boulder: Westview Press. 2000. ISBN 0-8133-3482-9. 
  • Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1999. ISBN 0-471-32985-1. 
  • Skeleton Keys: An Introduction to Human Skeletal Morphology, Development, and Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press. 1995. ISBN 0-19-505638-8. 
  • What the Bones Tell Us. New York: Henry Holt. 1993. ISBN 0-8050-1056-4. 
  • Orang-utan Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. 1988. ISBN 0-19-504371-5. 


Jeffrey H. Schwartz made an appearance in the documentary film The Trouble with Atheism.


  1. ^ a b c Belko, Mark (May 29, 2006). "The Thinkers: Pitt anthropologist thinks Darwin's theory needs to evolve on some points". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Pitt prof: Orangutans, not chimps, our closest relative". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 15, 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Spice, Byron (August 28, 2005). "3-D recreations by Pitt anthropologist bring new dimension to first president". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Barcousky, Len (February 14, 2010). "Meet the first president at History Center exhibit". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Pitt's Anthropology Professor Jeffrey Schwartz Elected President of World Academy of Art and Science". 2007-02-27. 
  6. ^ "Installation Remark by Prof. Jeffrey H. Schwartz". World Academy of Art & Science. February 28, 2008. 

External links

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