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A Tribute to Jaak Panksepp (1943–2017)

  • Kenneth L. Davis (a1) and Christian Montag (a2) (a3)


This article gives a short overview on the life and achievements of Jaak Panksepp. Jaak Panksepp dedicated his life to the study of mammalian emotions. By means of electrical stimulation of the brain and psychopharmacological challenges he carved out seven primary emotional systems being highly conserved across different species of mammals including homo sapiens. The primary emotional systems are called SEEKING, CARE, LUST, PLAY (positive emotions), and FEAR, RAGE, SADNESS (negative emotions). While his early career was characterized by the direct study of these primary emotions in mammals, in his late career he invested more and more time in applying his knowledge to different fields of psychology including personality neuroscience and psychiatry.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Christian Montag, E-mail:


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Personality Neuroscience
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