Archive for the ‘Neuroscience and emotions’ Category

Empathy in mammals

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The article discusses studies which seek to know whether empathy can motivate behaviours in non-human mammals. Peggy Mason et al at the University of Chicago showed that rats would free other rats distressed by being held in a restraint. This looked like empathy, but it is possible to argue that the rats really wanted to obtain a playmate rather than relieve another’s distress as such.

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Emotions and elementary forces

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The book, ‘The Science of Consciousness’ (published in June 2015), authored by Eva Deli considers the mind a physical system, and an elementary fermion, which interacts through elementary forces, called emotions. Birds and mammals have complex neural organization, which allows the formation of emotions, the basis of the mind’s homeostatic regulation.

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Amygdala and freewill

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This study demonstrates how neurons that are active when the subject chooses whether to have a small reward now or a larger reward in the future are inactive when the choice is made for the subject, implying a physical brain distinction between freewill and its absence.

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Memory and emotions

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The emergence of primary anoetic consciousness in episodic memory Frontiers in Behavioural Science, 3 January 2014, doi: 10.3389/fnbeh  ::  Marie Vanderkerckhover, Luis Bulnes & Jaak Panksepp, Vrije University Brussels, Washington Uiversity  ::  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879583/ Summary and review of the above paper The authors discuss how emotional experience becomes cognitively orientated in areas such as the episodic memory. The episodic memory has the ability Read more […]

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Subjective decisions

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What’s better for me? :: Fundamental role for habenula in subjective decision biases Colin Stopper & Stan Floresco, Brain Research Centre, University of British Columbia :: Nature Neuroscience, Vol. 17, No. 1, January 2014  Summary and review of the above paper  The lateral habenula (LHb) had traditionally been seen as an ‘aversion centre’. The LHb’s neurons respond to aversive events or the lack of expected rewards. However, in this study, the LHb is seen as being important as Read more […]

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Emotional valence

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Visualising an emotional valence map in the limbic forebrain Jianbo Xiu et al, Chinese Academy of Sciences Nature Neuroscience, Vol. 17, No. 11, November 2014 www.nature.com/neuro Summary and review of the above paper The representation of emotional valences in the brain has long been regarded as a fundamental problem. Emotions are categorised along two dimensions, firstly valence or value ranging from negative to positive, and secondly, salience or intensity ranging from weak to strong. This Read more […]

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Emotional and Cognitive Processing

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The field of affective neuroscience, initiated by Panksepp and Ledoux, embraces the concept that emotional processes are based on brain structures that operate in parallel with cognitive processes, and can thus influence behaviour independently of cognition.

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Conscious alteration of emotional processing

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Orthodox theories are not successful in explaining the causal interaction between mental experiences and events in the brain. Since the year 2000, neuroimaging studies have shown that the activity of brain regions involved in emotional processing can be consciously and volitionally altered. This paper seeks to demonstrate the causal influence of such phenomena as thoughts, on the brain, and on subsequent behaviour. Thus beliefs, goals and expectations are seen as being related to behaviour.

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Common neural currency

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Studies of neural activity in response to both complex visual scenes and also tastes revealed the neural code for a continuous axis of pleasant to unpleasant emotional values (valence). The medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortices (OFC) supports a valence code that is independent of the sensory origin of signals. This allows the attractive or aversive qualities of signals to be quantified regardless of the nature or modality of the stimuli.

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Orbitofrontal encoding regret

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The orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum encode expected outcomes during decision taking. Activity in these brain regions also reflects the perception of missed opportunities. Neural signals related to regret at missed opportunities are encoded here.

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