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Larry Barsalou, Tuesday, September 23

Situating Emotion

Lawrence W. Barsalou
Department of Psychology, Emory University
http://psychology.emory.edu/cognition/barsalou/

 

Discrete theories of emotion typically assume that dedicated neural circuits/modules originated in evolution to produce basic emotions in a relatively ballistic and rigid manner (e.g., fear, anger, disgust, sadness, happiness).  Three neuroimaging experiments challenge this view.  In Experiment 1, different assemblies of neural resources represented the same emotion in different situations (e.g., fear under threat of physical harm vs. social evaluation).  In Experiment 2, different groups of participants learned to experience fear and anger either in physical harm or social evaluation situations, and later, when asked to anticipate these emotions, assembled different neural resources.  In Experiment 3, different populations (cancer survivors, experienced meditators, controls) assembled different neural resources in response to the same emotional situations.  Consistent with constructivist theories of emotion, these results suggest that experiencing an emotion “soft assembles” relevant neural systems throughout the brain to produce emotion in the current situation.  To the extent that the same areas are utilized across multiple instances of a common emotional situation, an entrenched pattern develops that functions as an emotion attractor on future occasions.  These patterns can be viewed as situated conceptualizations that control emotion via their grounding in the brain’s systems for perception, action, and internal states.


Where and when:
15:45-17:00 Sep 23, 2014
MPI Colloquium Room

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