Précis of the brain and emotion

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (2):177-191 (2000)
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Abstract

The topics treated in The brain and emotion include the definition, nature, and functions of emotion (Ch. 3); the neural bases of emotion (Ch. 4); reward, punishment, and emotion in brain design (Ch. 10); a theory of consciousness and its application to understanding emotion and pleasure (Ch. 9); and neural networks and emotion-related learning (Appendix). The approach is that emotions can be considered as states elicited by reinforcers (rewards and punishers). This approach helps with understanding the functions of emotion, with classifying different emotions, and in understanding what information-processing systems in the brain are involved in emotion, and how they are involved. The hypothesis is developed that brains are designed around reward-and punishment-evaluation systems, because this is the way that genes can build a complex system that will produce appropriate but flexible behavior to increase fitness (Ch. 10). By specifying goals rather than particular behavioral patterns of responses, genes leave much more open the possible behavioral strategies that might be required to increase fitness. The importance of reward and punishment systems in brain design also provides a basis for understanding the brain mechanisms of motivation, as described in Chapters 2 for appetite and feeding, 5 for brain-stimulation reward, 6 for addiction, 7 for thirst, and 8 for sexual behavior. Key Words: amygdala; brain evolution; consciousness; dopamine; emotion; hunger; orbitofrontal cortex; punishment; reward; taste.

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