Friday, September 24, 2010

Points of emphasis, Emotional Brain, preface--Chapt. 1

LeDoux focuses on “how our conscious emotional feelings emerge from uns. processes” (preface)

Chapter 1:

“I view emotions as biological functions of the nervous system...By studying emotion through the brain, we greatly expand opportunities for making new discoveries beyond what can be achieed with psychological experimentation alone.” (12-13)

“The system we use to defend against danger is different from the one we use in procreation, and the feelings that result from activating these systems--fear and sexual pleasure--donot have a common origin. There is no such thing as the “emotion” faculty and there is no single brain system dedicated to this phantom function. If we are interested in understanding the various phenomena that we use the term “emotion” to refer to, we have to focus on specific classes of emotions...” (16)

“A second theme is that the brain systems that generate emotional behaviors are highly conserved through many levels of evolutionary history...our understanding of what it means to be human involves an appreciatoin of the ways in which we are like other animals as well as the ways in which we are different.” (17)

“...absence of awareness is the rule of mental life, rather than the exception, throughout the animal kingdom...emotional responses are, for the most part, generated unconsciously.” (17)

So Freud was right about much of our mental and emotional life being unconscious, but wrong about most of what he thought about the contents and processes of unconscious life. (my comment)

“The conscious feelings that we know and love (or hate) our emotions by are red herrings, detours, on the scientific study of emotions...Feelings of fear, for example, occur as part of the overall reaction to danger and are no more or less central to the reaction than the behavioral and physiological responses that also occur, such as trembling, running away, sweating, and heart palpitations. What we need to elucidate is not so much the conscious state of fear or the accompanying responses but the system that detects the danger in the first place...the system that detects danger is the fundamental mechanism of fear...This is not meant to imply that feelings are unimportant. It maens that if we want to understand feelings we have to dig deeper...since the brain system that generates emotional responses is similar in animals and people, studies of how the brain controls these responses in animals are a pivotal step toward understanding the mechanisms that generate emotional feelings in people. Studies of the neural basis of emotion in humans vary from difficult to impossible for both ethical and practical reasons...” (18)

“States of conscious occur when the system responsible for awareness becomes privy to the activity occurring in ucs. processing systems...There is but one mechanism of consciousness and it can be occupied by mundane facts or highly charged emotions. Emotions easily bump mundane events out of awareness, but nonemotional events (like thoughts) do not so easily displace emotions from the mental spotlight...We have little direct control over our emotional reactions...emotions can flood consciousness. This is so because the wriing of the brain at this point in our evolutionary history is such taht connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems are stronger than connections from the cognitive systems to the emotional systems.” (19)

“Mental health is maintained by emotional hygiene, and mental problems, to a large extent, reflect a breakdown of emotional order... (20)

“Cognitive science treats minds like computers and has traditionally been more interested in how people and machines solve logical problems...than in why we are sometimes happy and sometimes sad... (20)

“ of the major conclusions about cognition and that both seem to operate unconsciously, with only the outcome of cognitive or emotional processing entering awareness and occupying our conscious minds, and only in some instances. (21)

“...there is no single emotion system. Instead, there are lots of emotion systems, each of which evolved for a different functional purpose and each of whcih ives rise to different kinds of emotions...”(21)

“Psychotherapy is interpreted as a process through which our neocortex learns to exercise control over evolutionarily old emotional systems.” (21)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Welcome to Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the blog for Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior, Adler School of Professional Psychology, fall-winter 2010, Jay Einhorn, Ph.D., instructor.

This blog will contain instructions for assignments, occasional thoughts and pieces for reflection, and perhaps other communications about our class.