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Lecture 5

PSYCH 309 - Lecture 5 (Emotional Representation) - Sept 19.docx

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PSYC 309
Todd Handy

September 19, 2013 – Lecture 5 Readings: In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable • Service members – might have exceptional abilities at detecting roadside bombs • Brain – most sensitive detection system, even over high-tech gear o Gut feeling, or hunch o “body suddenly got cooler;… danger feeling” • How in a life or death situation, people’s brains can sense imminent danger and act on it well before most others’ do o Knowledge gained through experience matters o Small differences in how brain processes images  Reads emotions, manages surges in stress hormones • Studies: threatening situations, rush of stress hormone cortisol • Researchers: exhaustive interviews, personality tests, depth perception, vigilance, related ability o Speed with which brain reads and interprets sensations (feelings in one’s own body, emotions in body language of others) is central to avoiding imminent threats • Emotions – practice action programs that work to solve problem, before we’re conscious of it o Have to do with rational decision making • Aware of every detail, at spotting things that didn’t fit o Sensitive to small changes in environment o Some people’s brains, visual system were almost twice as fast detecting figures o Not just details, but step back and observe bigger picture – tension in air, oddities in behaviour, unusual rhythms in daily life • University of Iowa researchers – card game, rigged decks o Pattern unpredictable; bodies tensed up (subtly but significantly), measures of sweat • Study: gambling game – orbitofrontal cortex (decision making), insula (diverse sensations coming from around the body, cooling sensation of danger) particularly active o Alarm appears to sound earlier, more intensely in some brains • Gut feelings – not always correct o Neuroscientists – conditions which feeling precedes conscious awareness of clues? • Most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if overwhelmed by stress o Frame of mind to reduce anxiety – think as predators, not prey Defective somatic markers in sub-clinical psychopathy – Honk • Patients with orbitofrontical lesions – absent punishment learning on Iowa gambling task • Psychopath – fearless, remorseless predator; insensitive to punishment, strong reward dependency; tendency to commit violent, anti-social acts • Somatic marker hypothesis – emotion in neurocognition of decision making o Emotional learning is established by somatic or bodily feelings unconsciously and consciously marking certain behaviours having unpleasant outcomes • Iowa gambling task – uncertainty, reward, punishment o Unaware of strategy, guided by unconscious markers, observed as anticipatory skin conductance responses – subjects learn to choose advantageously in first half of game o Patients with orbitofrontal lesions develop neither unconscious nor conscious markers = impaired decision making  Pick from risky punishing decks even though consciously aware of disadvantage • Unconscious somatic markers seem to steer decision making towards advantageous decks, profitable choices increase in second half of game  game’s strategy obvious • High psychopathic group – similar pattern of knowledge about strategy, but unconscious nor conscious somatic markers seem to affect their behaviour  pattern of learning not observed Lecture 5 – Emotional Representation • Impact of emotion on how we see things • Dorsal visual pathway = how pathway • Ventral visual pathway = what pathway • How does emotional processing interact with v
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