PS102 Study Guide - Autonomic Nervous System, Prefrontal Cortex, Mirror Neuron

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
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Chapter 11: Emotion, Stress and Health
The Nature of Emotion
Emotion: a state of arousal involving facial and bodily changes (face, brain, body), brain
activation, cognitive appraisals (such as interpretation of events), subjective feelings and
tendencies toward actions
Emotion as a tree
: biological capacity for emotion is the trunk & root system;
thoughts and explanations create the many branches; and culture is the gardener
that shapes the tree
Emotion & The Body
Primary emotions: emotions that are considered to be universal and biologically-based
fear, sadness, joy, anger, surprise, disgust & contempt
These emotions have distinctive physiological patterns & corresponding facial
expressions & situations that evoke them are the same everywhere
Secondary emotions: emotions that are specific to certain cultures
Facial Expressions
Charles Darwin said that human facial expressions are innate & were develop because they
allowed our ancestors to tell between a friendly stranger & a hostile one
Some researchers have argued that pride is a basic human emotion; its adaptive
function is to motivate people to achieve and excel thereby increasing their
attractiveness
Facial feedback: the process by which the facial muscles send messages to the brain about
the basic emotion being expressed facial expressions influence our feelings
Babies (at the end of their first year) begin to alter their own behaviour in reaction to
their parents’ facial expressions e.g. In visual cliff study, if the parents looked
scared, no baby would cross the cliff, but if they had a happy expression, 74% did
People are better at identifying emotions expressed by others in their own
ethnic/national/regional group than of foreigners
The Brain
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Various parts involved with recognizing a person’s emotion, feeling a specific
emotion, expressing an emotion & acting on an emotion
People who’ve had a stroke & damaged brain are unable to feel some emotions
Emotions motivate a response: to embrace person that makes you happy, attack a
person who makes you angry, withdraw from food that disgusts you, etc
o Prefrontal regions involved in these impulses
RIGHT prefrontal region specialized to withdraw or escape (disgust or
fear)
LEFT specialized for the motivation to approach others (happiness, and
anger)
People with greater-than-avg activation of left areas have more
positive feelings, quicker ability to recover from and suppress negative
emotions
Prefrontal cortex also involved in regulation of emotion, helping us
modify & control feelings & responding appropriately to others
damage in this area blunts the sufferers ability to respond to emotions
of others
o Amygdala: responsible for evaluating sensory info, determining emotional
importance & making decision to approach/withdraw from a person/situation
(e.g. getting startled when you feel a hand on your back in a dark alley)
o Cerebral cortex generates more complete picture can override signals sent
by amygdala (e.g. fear evaporates when you realize its your friend)
o If damaged, people can’t recognize fear in others & may have difficulty
turning off their own fear responses
Neurons
Mirror neurons: brain cells that fire when a person or animal observes others carrying out an
action; they are involved in empathy, imitation & reading emotions respond only when
action is intentional
Enable us to identify with what others are feeling, understand others’ intentions &
imitate actions/gestures (e.g. feeling empathy when you see someone in pain)
Mirror neurons are the underlying mechanism for human empathy, nonverbal rapport
& mood contagion
Happiness is like a collective phenomenon
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The Energy of Emotion
Once brain areas associated with emotions are activated, next stage is the release of
hormones to enable you to respond quickly
When under stress/feeling intense emotion sympathetic division of autonomic
nervous system tells adrenal glands to release epinephrine & norepinephrine
(produce arousal & alertness) pupils dilate, blood pressure increases, breathing
speeds up
Different emotions account for different physiological patterns of brain activity &
autonomic nervous system activity (heart rate, electrical conductivity of the skin &
finger temperature)
Lie Detecting: invalid
No physiological patterns of autonomic arousal are specific to lying can only sense
things that identify an emotion of fear, anger, excitement, other signs of stress
Lie detector MRIs: not accurate because part of brain that lights up when lying also
light up in memory, self-awareness and self-monitoring
Emotion & The Brain
“people do not become angry or sad or ecstatic because of actual events, but because of
their explanations of those events” – Stoic philosophers
We often think ourselves into an emotional state
Schachter-Singer theory: males crossed a scary bridge & a stable not-scary bridge
males on scary bridge found the woman more attractive & more of them called her
for a second date they associated the arousal with the woman, but if she wasn’t
there, they would’ve associated it with fear
Third place medalists are happier than silver medalists because they think “Wow look
at how many people I beat! I’m glad I got a medal” whereas silver medalists think “I
could’ve gotten first”
Cognitions & physiology are inextricably linked to the experience of emotion.
Thoughts affect emotion emotions influence thoughts
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Document Summary

Emotion: a state of arousal involving facial and bodily changes (face, brain, body), brain activation, cognitive appraisals (such as interpretation of events), subjective feelings and tendencies toward actions. Emotion as a tree: biological capacity for emotion is the trunk & root system; thoughts and explanations create the many branches; and culture is the gardener that shapes the tree. Primary emotions: emotions that are considered to be universal and biologically-based fear, sadness, joy, anger, surprise, disgust & contempt. These emotions have distinctive physiological patterns & corresponding facial expressions & situations that evoke them are the same everywhere. Secondary emotions: emotions that are specific to certain cultures. Charles darwin said that human facial expressions are innate & were develop because they allowed our ancestors to tell between a friendly stranger & a hostile one. Some researchers have argued that pride is a basic human emotion; its adaptive function is to motivate people to achieve and excel thereby increasing their attractiveness.

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