Thursday, July 07, 2011

Emotion hot spots in our brain - modern phrenology

I am guilty, as well as much of the modern press, of using the discredited shortcut of associating specific emotions with specific brain areas (amygdala = fear; insula = revulsion; anterior cingulate = subjective pain; etc.) rather than noting that none of these emotions can exist in the absence of an extensive network of interacting brain areas. This is the modern equivalent of the 19th century phrenologists who judged character traits by bumps on the skull. I want to pass on the abstract of a meta-analytic review of the brain basis of emotion by Lindquist et al. currently under review by BBS, which rather nails this point. (Email me if you are interested in a copy.) The article has some nice graphics of brain regions they associate with two major approaches: "the locationist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories consistently and specifically correspond to distinct brain regions) with the psychological constructionist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories are constructed of more general brain networks not specific to those categories). Here is their abstract:

Researchers have wondered how the brain creates emotions since the early days of psychological science. With a surge of studies in affective neuroscience in recent decades, scientists are poised to answer this question. In this paper, we present a meta-analytic summary of the human neuroimaging literature on emotion. We compare the locationist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories consistently and specifically correspond to distinct brain regions) with the psychological constructionist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories are constructed of more general brain networks not specific to those categories) to better understand the brain basis of emotion. We review both locationist and psychological constructionist hypotheses of brain-emotion correspondence and report metaanalytic findings bearing on these hypotheses. Overall, we found little evidence that discrete emotion categories can be consistently and specifically localized to distinct brain regions. Instead, we found evidence that is consistent with a psychological constructionist approach to the mind: a set of interacting brain regions commonly involved in basic psychological operations of both an emotional and non-emotional nature are active during emotion experience and perception across a range of discrete emotion categories.

2 comments:

Josh Leeger said...

Hi Deric, would you mind sending me a copy of this? jleeger@gmail.com

Marios said...

May I also have one
a_marios@yahoo.com

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