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PSYC18 Psychology of Emotion Lecture 7:
1) Historical emphasis on brain causing emotions
2) Breaking down the brain: Where do emotions happen & How are they controlled?
3) Recent research about amygdale & limbic system
4) A fundamental divide? Left- vs. right-brain debate
- Peripheralist (body feedback) vs centralist (feedback from brain/CNS) model
- Historically these models have been pitted against each other
- Three-part soul t passionate soul resides in the chest causes emotions like courage
- Centralist for cognition
- Peripheralist for emotion
Then Along came Galen
- Body & brain responsible for distinct processes:
1. Heart, vital spirits - The heart passes the air thru a filter (vital spirits), allow for
2. ]vU^uÀo}µv_Ç]o refined animal spirits t these spirits cause emotions
- For emotion: a peripheralist or centralist? CENTRALIST
David Hartley (1705-1757)
- Pain, pleasure, & complex emotions result from vibrations in the brain.
- Emotional Conditioning
o A result of fusion:
o Co-activation of brain regions that becomes physiologically fixed due to repeated
exposure to two stimuli.
doing math t you can get a physiological
link between region A and B
So What is Pleasure for Hartley?
- Pleasure = moderate vibration
- Pain = excessive vibration
Modern Explanation: What parts of the brain produce & control emotions?
- This necessitates a high-speed overview of brain anatomy:
1. Different brain regions = different functions.
o Hind Brain:
Controls basic physiological processes
Pons t sleep wake cycles
Cerebellum t balance and controlling motor movements
Regulates more complex actions of body.
Cognition & emotion
Limbic system & prefrontal cortex key for emotional processes including
Thalamus* t in charge of sensations, integrates them and delivers it upward t
connected to entire limbic system, sends info directly to limbic system before
the higher up processes (limbic system = automatic unconscious reflexes)
Hippocampus t in charge of memory (emotions can shape memory)
Olfactory bulb t in charge of smell, hooked onto amygdala
- Appraises sensory information.
(a) Determines if there is cause for emotion.
(b) Prescribes automatic behavior.
The Collective Limbic System
- Informed by the amygdala.
- Amydgala = determines if there is a cause for emotion, limbic system = emotional expression
Anderson and Phelps (2002)
- Evidence to support whole system view for felt emotion
- Compared people with and without amygdala damage, found that there is no difference
between them in terms of felt emotions
The Prefrontal Cortex
- Permits emotion regulation in the following domains: initiation, inhibition, and modulation of:
o felt emotion
o actions/expressions t may feel sad but stop crying
o emotion-related cognition t steer you away from pessimistic thinking
The Amygdala: Checking in on Recent Research
- Amygdala is primary appraiser.
- Sensitive to basic goal = self-preservation.
o active when eating food that tastes bad, when watching a sad movie
- General consensus and plenty of evidence to support this.
- One question that still remains unanswered:
Starting Point to Answer this Question:
- Yoon et al. (2009) study about depression-related bias when
people look at two emotional faces.
- Those with Clinical Depression are more sensitive to the mildly
angry face being more intense than mildly happy face
What is the Difference?
- Amygdala activation or amygdale volume?
- Functional or Structural?
- Hajek et al. (2009). Amygdala volumes in mood disorders: Meta-analysis of magnetic resonance
volumetry studies. Journal of Affective Disorders
Logic Underlying Meta-Analysis
- Individual studies weak because of:
o small sample sizes
o demographics not controlled for adequately
o methodological heterogeneity
- Thus, a single study is underpowered.