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Chapter 11

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Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Chapter 11: The Evolution of Emotion Why Do We Have Emotions? • Cognition is motivated to some specific end • Evolutionists argue that emotions fulfill this crucial motivational role • Finding something rewarding means that we must, at some level, have an emotional response to it • Emotions motivate us to do things • Emotions are the driving forces that propel us to make use of the cognitive abilities we have • What evolutionary psychology might add to this understanding is the notion that emotions exist to make us want to do the sorts of things that made our ancestors successful, in an inclusive fitness sense, and to avoid doing the things that would have made them less successful Darwin, James and Freud and the Early Study of Emotions • Darwin stated not only that emotions served the purpose of aiding survival and reproduction in our ancestors, but that they are currently used in the same way cross-culturally • The Purpose of Emotions in Humans as Seen by Darwin, James and Freud • Darwin argues tat such expressions must be inherited rather than learned • Darwin saw emotions as internal psychological states, the expression of which are rudimentary vestiges of behaviour handed down from our ancestors • Darwin introduced three principles around which he considered emotions to be based 1. Serviceable associated habits - when is a specific emotional state, a person is likely to demonstrate the same type of expression and the same type of body posture 2. Antithesis - the expression of positive and negative emotions occur in pairs 3. Direct action of the excited nervous system on the body independently of the will • James developed Darwin’s ideas arguing that, rather than the physical signs of an emotion following an internal state, the reverse is the case • In this way humans were seen to have evolved to react to our inward and outward bodily signs of emotions • James argued that the brain monitors the state of the viscera (that is ‘gut feelings’) and then we react to these signs with the appropriate internal state Twentieth-Century Rejection of Universal Emotions • Mead argued vigorously that each culture develops its own unique set of emotion • The SSSM that prevailed throughout much of the 20th century may well have been one of the reasons that many psychologists shied away from investigating the universality of human emotions • Today, however, much of Mead’s work on cultural differences in emotions has been discredited due to problems of objectivity and preconceptions • Growing evidence that Darwin was correct in his view of the universality of human emotions - at least as far as expressions are concerned Emotional Expression and Emotional Experience • We keep many of our feelings to ourselves and modify much of what we give away to others about our current internal state Chapter 11: The Evolution of Emotion Seeing Emotions in the Brain - The Biology of Emotional Experience • There are three components to emotions - physiological, psychological and behavioral • Using PET and fMRI scans, neuropsychologists have begun to uncover what is going on in the human brain when experiencing or viewing emotions • Two quite specific areas of the brain have been implicated in emotions - the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex • TheAmygdala • The amygdala is an almond-shaped bundle of neurons found in each cerebral hemisphere • It is part of the limbic system and is concerned with emotions • Humans with damage to this area and animals that have been lesioned here show inappropriate emotional responses • Humans with damage to the amygdala, in particular, appear to be unable to recognize fear in the faces of others • Moreover, they have profound problems with memory • In addition to increased activation when viewing fear, PET scans also show an increased activation of the amygdala when perceiving sad but not angry faces • The Orbitofrontal Cortex • The cortex is responsible for many of our higher functions • The orbitofrontal cortex receives information from the cortex of the frontal lobes and from the sensory systems • It also has extensive communication with the limbic system below • Furthermore, it is able to affect the activity of the limbic system and in particular, the amygdala • Damage to this area leads to profound changes in emotional response and to personality in general Phineas Gage -An Early Study of Serious Brain Injury • One of the earliest documented cases of damage to the orbitofrontal cortex occurred in the middle of the 19th century and involved railway foreman Phineas Gage • His orbitofrontal cortex would have been largely obliterated • Prior to the accident he was considered to be a serious and industri
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