Neural evidence that human emotions share core affective properties

Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., Barrett, L. F. and Barsalou, L. W. (2013) Neural evidence that human emotions share core affective properties. Psychological Science, 24(6), pp. 947-956. (doi: 10.1177/0956797612464242) (PMID:23603916) (PMCID:PMC4015729)

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Research on the “emotional brain” remains centered around the idea that emotions like fear, happiness, and sadness result from specialized and distinct neural circuitry. Accumulating behavioral and physiological evidence suggests, instead, that emotions are grounded in core affect—a person’s fluctuating level of pleasant or unpleasant arousal. A neuroimaging study revealed that participants’ subjective ratings of valence (i.e., pleasure/displeasure) and of arousal evoked by various fear, happiness, and sadness experiences correlated with neural activity in specific brain regions (orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala, respectively). We observed these correlations across diverse instances within each emotion category, as well as across instances from all three categories. Consistent with a psychological construction approach to emotion, the results suggest that neural circuitry realizes more basic processes across discrete emotions. The implicated brain regions regulate the body to deal with the world, producing the affective changes at the core of emotions and many other psychological phenomena.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., Barrett, L. F., and Barsalou, L. W.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Psychological Science
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN (Online):1467-9280

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