Award Committee: “Professor Ruth Feldman excels in innovative theoretical development and research of the highest quality as well as in finding many applications for the benefit of the general public and the strengthening of the resilience of Israeli society.”
Prof. Ruth Feldman, director of the Center for Development Social Neuroscience and the Simms-Mann Professor of Developmental Social Neuroscience at the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology at IDC Herzliya, is the recipient of the 2020 EMET Prize in Psychology. The award committee's decision to grant the prize to Professor Feldman was unanimous.
Prof. Feldman is one of the world leaders in the study of the neurobiological basis of the formation of affiliative bonds (“the biology of love”) and is renowned for her research on the development of parent-child relationships, the parental brain, and the hormone oxytocin.
From the statement of the Award Committee:
“Professor Ruth Feldman has been working on the emotional and social development of children in the context of the parent-infant dyadic relationship for many years. She is one of the world's leading researchers in the conceptualization and understanding of the initial relationship that an infant forms with his parents and the long-term implications of this relationship on the individual's emotional-social functioning throughout his life, from infancy to adolescence. In her research, Prof. Feldman impressively and uniquely incorporates research methods from the fields of psychology (for example, behavioral observations during interpersonal interactions), neuroscience (such as brain imaging and brainwave analysis), psychophysiology (for example recording cardiac activity), endocrinology (including the analysis of hormonal activity), genetics, and molecular biology. This interdisciplinary approach has allowed her to examine and understand in depth the genetic, neurological, hormonal and behavioral processes that contribute to the formation of the initial parent-infant relationship and the emotional-social development of the individual.”
“Prof. Feldman's academic work has resulted not only in groundbreaking fundamental research, but also in the translation of her research findings to the development of programs and interventions designed to contribute to the well-being of the individual and the community. Following her findings on the importance of the parent-infant relationship, Prof. Feldman established and runs a public clinic that addresses issues in the parent-infant relationship and trains clinical psychologists to specialize in the period of early childhood. Her research on child development in Jewish and Arab society and on the biological basis of empathy led to the creation of a dialogue-based intervention for Jewish and Arab youth. Her longitudinal study of postpartum depression and its impact on children's brain development brought about the establishment of an intervention program for mothers and babies in their homes that is currently being implemented across the country.”
In conclusion, the award committee stated that “Professor Ruth Feldman excels in innovative theoretical development and research of the highest quality as well as in finding many applications for the benefit of the general public and the strengthening of the resilience of Israeli society.”
Prof. Uriel Reichman, president and founder of IDC Herzliya, congratulated Prof. Feldman on winning the prestigious award, saying, "Prof. Feldman's work is a model of cutting-edge and innovative interdisciplinary research, combining neuroscience, psychology and biology. Her many years of research exploring the complexity of the connection between the human mind and body has provided us with invaluable knowledge that is used in developing therapies and tools to improve the lives of many children and adults. We are proud to have Prof. Feldman as a member of the faculty of IDC and of the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, which has become one of the leading schools in Israel in psychological research and the teaching of the field of psychology.”
The Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology at IDC Herzliya offers first and second degrees in clinical psychology and social psychology. Its faculty and researchers conduct advanced research in a number of institutes and laboratories. Recently, the Council of Higher Education authorized the school to grant PhDs in psychology.