PSYC18H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Rectum, Small Intestine, Large Intestine

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22 Apr 2012
Chapter Five - Page 1 of 7
Chapter Five: Bodily Changes and Emotion
Until 1884, people argued that the experience of an emotion follows the perception of an
emotionally exciting event. Emotional experience, in turn, generates emotion-related bodily
changes. Emotion originates in the mind.
William James (principal founder of American psychology) changed this he located the origins
of emotional experience in the body. He contended that at emotionally exciting fact provokes
bodily responses, which in turn lead to the experience of emotion
He said that every emotion involves a distinct bodily reverberation detected by the autonomic
nervous system and by neural signals from the workings of our muscles
If you took away the physiological sensations of an emotion, James argued you would only be
left with an intellectual state. Emotion would be absent
His counterintuitive analysis points to five questions:
o Is there emotion-specific activation in the ANS
o Do bodily changes support specific kinds of action such as flight/fight
o What extent is the experience of emotion based on activation of the ANS
o Do bodily changes produce the experience of emotion
o Is the body really the primary organ of emotional experience
The autonomic nervous system
Neural signals from the
cortex communicate with the
limbic system and the
These brain regions
send signals through ANS
neurons to the target organs,
glands, muscles, and blood
vessels. These structures, in
turn, send signals back via the
ANS to the hypothalamus,
limbic system, and cortex.
The ANS’ most general
function is to maintain the
internal condition of the body,
to enable adaptive response to
varying environmental events
The parasympathetic
branch helps with restorative
processes, reducing heart rate
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Chapter Five - Page 2 of 7
and blood pressure and increasing digestive processes
The sympathetic branch increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output and shuts
down digestive processes, to help the individual to engage in physically demanding actions
The ANS maintains the inner environment to enable to the adaptive response to varying
external environmental events. It does this by controlling digestion, blood flow, body fuilds and
temperature. It’s closely associated with behaviours with direct relevance to emotion, including
defensive behaviour, sexual behaviour, and aggression
The ANS’ two branches originate in different parts of the spinal cord and are controlled by
different NTs
The parasympathetic and sympathetic branches
o incporporates nerves that oringinate in two different parts of the spinal cord: the vagus
nerve, at the top of the spinal cord, and in the sacral region near the bottom of the
spinal cord
o It decreases heart rate and blood pressure, facilitates blood flood by dilating certain
arteries in some places
o Increases blood flow to sexual organs
o Increases digestive processes by moving food through GI tract
o Constricts the pupil and bronchioles
o Stimulates the secretion of various fluids
o Involves over a dozed neural pathways originating at several sites on the spinal cord,
and most typically acts in the opposite way from the PANS
o Increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output
o Produces vasoconstriction in most veins/arteries
o Shuts down digestive processes reason for trouble eating when stressed
o Contractions in the reproductive organs that are part of orgasm
o Leads to the contraction of the piloerector muscles that surround hairs on the arms,
neck and back, which helps with thermoregulation (goosebumps)
o Provides energy for the body glycogenolysis, freeing of fatty acids in blood, etc
o Reduces activity of natural killer cells which are involved in immune responses reason
for poor health when stressed
o Helps prepare the body for fight/flight
Two kinds of support for James’ claims about autonomic specificity and emotion
o There are over a dozen distinct autonomic pathways that activate different body
regions, so different emotions could potentially be involved with distinct pathways
o One can imagine many different ways in which components of the ANS could combine.
Such patterns could account for the diversity of emotional experience
Cannon’s critique of autonomic specificity
Walter cannon was James’ student and was unconvinced by his arguments about emotion
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