Emotion Science (Elaine Fox, 2008) - Chapter 1 summary

Fox, E. (2008): Emotion Science
[Emotion & Cognition, Leiden University, 2015]
CH1: Introduction to Emotion Science
Emotions are biologically given
emotions/affect programs were given by nature because they are good solutions to
recurring problems
questions about the functions of the underlying process
ability to find food, sexual partners, adequate protection, avoid danger and escape from
life threatening events
emotions are a complex response to a meaningful event
coherence helps emotions to serve particular functions
emotions are an !"#$%&!%!!"#$%&&!
core set of emotions anger, fear, happiness, sadness, disgust are associated with
particular facial expressions
across species behavioral and facial reactions are very similar
Eliciting event -> Activation of genetically encoded emotion systems -> ANS Activation +
Expressive behavior+subjective feeling state
Emotions are socially constructed
emotions are socially constructed narratives that give meaning to our social world
they are products of particular cultures and define its value and assist members to
negotiate social roles
like language can only be acquired through particular environment
research shows that how people construct their main goals in life differs across cultures
independent vs interdependent
positive emotion depends on self esteem or interpersonal harmony
Eliciting event -> Evaluation of conformity with learned social and cultural norm systems ->
ANS Activation + Expressive behavior+subjective feeling state
Emotions are the result of perceptions of bodily changes
James: we notice a particular object a variety of physiological changes take place and
the perception of these changes is the emotion
do you run because you are afraid or are you afraid because you run?
Damasio adds that body can also change emotions even if the event hasn’t occured,
emotions can change, as-if state
emotions are essentially caused by perception of changes in internal body states
Eliciting event -> ANS Activation -> cognitive appraisal + Expressive behavior + subjective
feeling state
Emotions are a result of cognitive appraisals
● feelings are caused by our beliefs about the world
● cognitive appraisals are a evaluation between the self and the environment
● better understand how one emotion can differ from another
● different people experience different emotions in response to the same event
study cognition with behavioral tasks
Is there an emotion center in the brain?
● idea about limbic system that controls emotions is incorrect
● different brain circuits control different paths of processing
● there are surprisingly few differences between animals and humans
● however the cognition in the neo cortex is supposed to have a profound influence on
● the process may have shifted upwards
● the core processes remain in subcortical tissues while feelings may have spread
upwards into the cortical regions
● damage to neo cortex results in profound changes and deficits in emotional processing
● three brain regions
○ cerebrum
○ mid-brain region
○ brain stem
● lots of stuff we have read millions of times… the brain has two hemispheres… oh
really?! :D
● front regions = anterior rostral or frontal
● back regions = posterior or caudal
● upper direction = dorsal
● downward = ventral
● lateral and medial view
emotions are a discrete and consistent response to internal and aexternal events wich
have particular significance for organisms
significance and evaluating it is a key component of emotions
they are of brief duration and have coordinated responses to a significant event
feelings are best understood as subjective representations of emotion
moods refer to a more diffuse affective state that generally lasts for a longer duration
and are less intense
research can focus on neural correlates or focus on cognitive processes that correlate
with moods
cognition refers to a persons mental processes and assumes that the mind has internal
mental states
cognitive process is assumed to take place when information coming in through the
senses is transformed in some way like with beliefs desires and intentions
consider how affect-cognition interactions take place
how memories about past and ideas about future influence them
primary function of basic emotions is to coordinate a complex emotional system
decides on goals of survival
thus how we think can profoundly influence how we feel
individual variations in fundamental biases in cognition are implicated in the
development of affective disorders
● techniques of research are sometimes controversial
● like implanting electrodes into animals or showing humans fearful images
● types of questions addressed in research and the following conclusions can turn out to
be quite different depending on who conducted the research
The nature and measurement of emotions, moods and feelings
■ each emotion consists of different components
Emotion Component
Organismic Subsystem
Emotion Function
Cognitive component
Information processing
Evaluation of events &
component (bodily
system regulation
Motivational component
(action tendencies)
Preparation and direction of
Motor expression
component(facial and vocal
Communication of reaction
and behavioral intention
Subjective feeling component
(emotional experience)
Monitoring of internal state
and organism-environment
question whether cognitive appraisal is cause or component of emotions
some theorists argue that emotion and cognition are seperate and interact
component process model says appraisals are important components of emotion and
emotions only experienced subsystems coordinate to produce an adaptive reaction to
event that is appraised as significant for persons well being
defines emotions in terms of function identifies subsystems
components of an emotion are the particular state of the five subsystems at any given
the process refers to the coordinated changes that take place over time
Izard: make differentiation between emotion and emotion schema; emotion is a
coordinated response to environment and doesn't need appraisal
subsystems operate independently most of the time but emotions need those
component to be coordinated and synchronized
emotions prepare us to deal with significant events
emotions are coordinated reactions to a number of different objects and situations
emotionally competent stimuli are objects and situations we have to reacto to
stimuli can be broken into rewards and punishers
sometimes emotions are understood best as action tendencies that prepare the
organism to act in some way
emotions are embodied and manifested clearly recognizable and in stereotypical
behavioral patterns of facial expression, comportment and autonomic arousal
emotions are less susceptible to intentions
emotions are less encapsulated than other psychological state, they affect everything
in psychiatry it describes states of happiness or sadness
different from everyday language
mood as a cue to the resources the person has available
moods are concerned with larger longer lasting existential issues
moods are seen as a general appraisal of our well being
mood reflects one's general position in life (Prinz)
moods detect global changes in environment while emotions are set up to detect local
Damasio: mood is a state of emotion that tends to become frequent or continuous over
long periods of time
Prinz: moods are a special case of emotion and don't represent a distinct category
Distinguishing Moods and Emotions
emotions of short duration, in response to sudden specific events, intense, accompany
physiological arousal, tend to bias actions in order to facilitate adaptation
emotions elicited by sudden events
moods are more enduring and less intensive, more diffuse physiological arousal, bias
cognition rather than action
can be induced by emotion
signal how we do in life generally
can be induced by general events like the weather
a mood state is induced in the absence of an external sensory input
Kagan: emotions are a temporary change in physiological and biological processes to
particular incentives & moods are a salient enduring emotional quality displayed in a
variety of situations
moods are always present and provide the emotional color background
moods = affective background and emotions are disruptions of that
Beedie: a difference in moods at one level leads to differences in other levels
asking folk psychology about difference = eight themes emerged: intensity duration,
physiology, cause, awareness of cause, consequences, function and intentionality
■ some focus on self report others on physiological and behavioral indicators
■ moods are induced by asking people to recalling an event that happened to them or
giving lists of negative/positive statements to read
■ mood induction procedure: requires person to read sad or happy self statements
■ moods can reliably induced that way but not clear if mood or emotions are induced
inducing emotions easier in animals, f.e. letting rat smell cat induces fear
emotional stimuli like facial expressions can induce emotions in humans
problem: neurobiological bases of moods and emotions are shared
moods are a subset of emotions
■ subjective experience accompanied by a feeling
■ scientists argue emotion can not reliably be described by subjective reports
■ the problem is that emotions also involve physiological changes and behavioral changes
that we may not always be aware of
■ assume that emotions evolved from simple actions tendencies
■ measures of those can provide reliable output
■ primitive response of moving away from things or moving towards things appetite and
aversion or approach and aviodance
■ measures of approach and avoidance behavior can easily be designed
■ behavioral physiological, neural and subjective responses utilized to measure more
complex aspects of emotions
Measurement of behavioral correlates of emotion
■ most obvious behavior associated with emotion is facial expression
■ but there are varying cultural rules about which emotion to express
■ people can suppress expression of emotion
■ observational techniques many animals express emotions, mostly distress, f.e. newborn
rats have ultrasonic calls if they fall out of the nest they call the mother
■ rodents have strong reactions to smells which act as signal of danger and elicit the fear
■ mice avoid mice who have received electric shocks more than normal mice just by the
smell of them
■ monkeys have different alarm calls for different types of predators
■ Darwin linked behavioral expression of animals to that of humans
■ Ekman: facial expressions are universal not culture specific
■ for emotions happiness, fear, surprise anger and sadness there was high agreement
■ behavioral indicators of what emotion animal or human is experiencing
■ important role in social communication behavioral correlates give help understanding
role of emotions in everyday life
Measurement of the physiological correlates of emotion
■ physiological reactions: Heart racing ß excited or frightened, sweaty palms ß anxious or
nervous, hormone release
■ under extreme danger blood will be diverted into the muscles and awaz from less vital
■ extra adrenaline causes accelerated heart rate and constricion of vessels, increased
breathing and reduced gut activity
■ the ASN rregulates internal environment and is important for emotion
■ sympathetic ASN controls arousal
parasympathetic ASN controls resting
Measurement of neural correlates of emotion
■ structures of limbic system are important for emotion
■ surgical removal of specific structures brings understanding
■ in animal research single cell recording is used = surgical implantation of an electrode in
brain that can directly measure the activity of a single neuron or a small group of
■ can also be implanted in humans with epileptic seizures
■ PET & fMRI detect changes in regional blood flow and metabolism of brain
■ more active neurons use more glucose and oxygen -> more blood flow in active area
■ fMRI takes advantage of blood containing oxygen, which has a different magnetic
■ EEG measures the electrical activity of the brain - placement of several small electrodes
around the brain measures event-related potential
■ MEG can measure magnetic fields produced by the brain's electrical activity
■ check out p. 35 for table
Measurement of subjective correlates of emotions
■ what the emotion feels like is often most salient to us
■ need for introspection, which is rarely used in cognitive psychology
■ accuracy of reports can be poor
■ often we are unaware of the triggers to our emotions
■ mere exposure effect we tend to like stimuli simply because we have been repeatedly
exposed to them
■ preference of familiar items is basis of advertisement
■ people cant recognize chinese shapes that they have been exposed to but when asked
which ones they preferr the chose the ones they were exposed to
■ emotional responses can be activated by subliminal cues that we are unaware of
■ descriptive experience sampling interrupting the flow of consciousness by a beeper
■ DES or a diary record have potential in emotion science
■ more common is the use of questionnaires
Questionnaire-based measures of emotion
■ important to define if we want to know the transiet state or the more stable feeling of
■ distincition between state and trait
■ state is transient reaction to specific situation
■ trait is the tendency to react in a particular way
■ emotional state refers to a particular episode of limited duration
■ trait is the tendency to experience an emotion
■ an angry person f.e. becomes angry more easily
■ table p.39 BDI, PANAS mood questionnaires
Measurement of cognitive correlates of emotion
cognition = fundamental biases in perception, attention and memory that are a feature of
emotional states
most widely used behavioral measure is reaction time how quickly people can make a
reaction to a stimulus
press button a for positive words, b for negative
several hundred trials presented in random order
RT can provide indirect measure of mental acticity f.e. positive words are processed
investigating how quicly people respond to emotionally valenced information
ask if memory is better or worse for certain emotional information
access memory, with word lists, recall tasks
Measurement of physiological and neural correlates of moods
• measuring psychophysiological correlates of mood has less practical implications
• emotions only last second, doesn't give enough time to assess the blood flow
• assess abnormal mood states and mood disorders
• they implicate many parts of the brain at the same time
• Major Depression diagnosed when these symptoms occur every day for at least two weeks
• reserpine (drug) first indicated change in systems in depression
• involved in dopamine and serotonin
• because of the many systems involved in depression research tend to focus on variations in
diffuse neuroregulatory systems
• monoamine oxidase destroys monoamine transmitters and produces increased levels of
these in the brain the four transmitters are dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline and
• depressed mood related to depletion of MAO and elevated mood is larger MAO activity
• most effective drugs lead to increase in serotonergic and noradrenergic synapses
• but takes several weeks for antidepressants to work
• implies that some other interaction is the cue to the change of mood
• adaptation occurs in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal
• activity of HPA helps individual respond to stress and is involved with anxiety disorders
• HPA activates CRH pituitary releases ACTH and adrenal glands release cortisol
• HPA is the reason for high comorbidity of anxiety disorders and mood disorders
• amygdala stimulates HPA and hippocampus suppresses HPA
• hippocampus is sensitive to cortisol and critical to feedback regulation of HPA
• glucocorticoid receptors are sensitive to cortisol, reduction of those disrupts feedback system
• concentration of CRH is concentrated in depressed patients
• number of glucocorticoid receptors determined by nature of life experience
• when given great care rats have more receptors
• increase in later tactile stimulation can make up for maternal neglect
• childhood neglect leads to increased mood and anxiety disorder
• most consequential for health are prolonged mood states and dispositions
• fMRI shows that emotions may be mediated by phylogenetically old anatomical structures
• moods related to more refined cognitive response of more recent regions such as PFC
Measurement of cognitive correlates of mood
• in typical experiments mood induced by reading valence sentences, hypnosis or recall of
autobiographical memory
• induction is confirmed by self-report measures
• ask to read list of words and recall them, in happy mood more likely to recall happy words
and vice versa mood congruent encoding
• current mood state can be a determinant of judgements people are gonna make
• when asked about future health and happiness current mood influenced judgements
• people much less satisfied with life on a cloudy day but only if they hadn't been asked about
the weather in telephone interview
• when mood not attributed to weather it has influence on judgement on life satisfaction
• once different mood states were induced people were asked to make quick lexical decisions
• when people in happy mood the RT to identify positive words was quicker than negative
words and vice versa when in sad mood
• conscious experience of affect, the feeling state essential that represents emotion to most
• what we notice and remember are events that evoke feelings
• events in lives are characterised by the intensity of the feelings
• affective responses (= emotions and moods) are closely related to everyday life
• feelings are the mental representation of physiological changes
• research on feelings lags behind, mainly because they were used to be considered emotions
• hard because they rely on verbal self report
• evidence that emotions and moods are represented as states of pleasure and displeasure
• in addition they include arousal based content
• feeling is integrating and regulating the components
• first order bodily representations brain must have a way to represent the bodily units
• body mapped on our brain, signals give info about internal state constantly
• external objects also mapped within
• changes in neural sensory maps relating to external objects cause changes in map of body
• changes can be re-represented in all maps
• second order bodily representations first order maps become mental images
• mental images describing these relationships are feelings
• provide feedback that is modified with on going experience
• can guide our behaviour
• Damasio: consciousness is the critical function that allows us to recognise our feelings
• we can only really know we are feeling an emotion when we sense it as occurring within our
own body
• feelings occur only after the second order representation necessary for consciousness
Measurement of neural and physiological correlates of feelings
• feelings are private mental states that occur after emotion
• hard to separate them from the anatomy of emotions
• experiments confound emotions and feelings
• common to induce a mood, while people are experiencing those fMRI scans are made
• increase and decrease in blood flow (regional cerebral blood flow) in frontal, temporal and
cingulate regions were observed
• rCBF increased in brain stem and hypothalamic areas regardless of which mood was induced
• supports the view that feeling are associated with ANS functions
• cortical areas were also observed to activate in response to feeling states
• -> problems with this study: PET is quite poor resolution for temporal regions, because
feelings were self generated people could have attempted to change own bodily states
• no support that physiological changes are critical for feelings
• Pure Autonomic Failure PAF is a neurological disorder that causes people to be unable to
modulate their bodily state with the ANS
• when induced stress heart rate don't change
• PAF participants have more activity in dorsal pons
• more anterior cingulate activity
• suggests that cingulate modulates ANS and provides feedback
• provides support for notion that there is a hierarchical structure in feelings
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