Introducing the brain: how emotions relate (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Sunday, March 01, 2020, 15:48 (133 days ago) @ David Turell

Our very complex emotions may be part of our consciousness, but the brain and the emotions play both and forth with effects on each other:

http://wise.nautil.us/feature/525/how-emotions-connect-your-body-and-brain?utm_source=N...

"Emotions like happiness and despair are not baked into our brains, waiting to be triggered by experiences in the world. Sure, we have a range of feelings, stimulated by our senses. But those feelings cannot be categorized as emotions innate in everyone. What we call emotions, Barrett says, are concepts constructed by our individual neural systems, molded by our cultures and past experiences.

***

"The breadth of [her] book, though, illuminates what emotions tell us about the ways the body and brain work, an anatomy lesson of how we make our way through the world.

***

"Barrett writes, emotions reveal that our brains are like a black box in our bodies, being fed outside information by our senses, and figuring out how to best navigate the chaos. “An emotion is your brain’s creation of what your bodily sensations mean,” Barrett writes. “From sensory input and past experience, your brain constructs meaning and prescribes action. If you didn’t have concepts that represent your past experience, all your sensory inputs would just be noise. You wouldn’t know what the sensations are, what caused them, nor how to behave and deal with them. With concepts, your brain makes meaning of sensation, and sometimes that meaning is emotion.”

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"Constructed emotion is the idea that emotions aren’t given. It’s not the case that there’s a ready-made circuit available in your brain and when it’s triggered, you get this cascade, this suite of characteristic patterned responses. Instead, your brain makes emotion, as it needs it, on the spot, using a set of all-purpose ingredients.

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"...your brain is in a dark, silent box called your skull and it can’t get out and experience the world directly. It can only know the world through the sensory inputs that come through your sensory systems—your ears, your eyes, and so on. It only has effects. It only has wavelengths of light, or changes in air pressure, or concentrations of chemicals and it has to figure out what caused those in those wavelengths of light, or changes in concentration, or air pressure, and so on, so that it knows what to do next.

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"In insects that are social, they primarily use chemicals to regulate each other. Termites, for example, are a social species, and they pretty much use olfaction and chemicals. Other mammals, like rats and rodents, use touch, and they also use hearing to regulate each other’s nervous systems. Primates, that are not human, also use vision. We use all of those sensory systems—and we also use words and concepts. (my bold)

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"Sometimes, it predicts a conflict, or an obstacle, or a competition. In each of these cases when it’s making this prediction, it’s using knowledge that in our culture belongs to the concept of anger. As it prepares your body to meet the conflict, deal with the obstacle, compete in the competition, you have bodily changes that you experience as affect, and your brain is making sense of those sensations as anger, and it constructs anger for you.

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"One thing we’ve learned is that an infant brain doesn’t look like an adult grown-up brain: It’s not wired in the same way. In fact, babies are born with brains that await instructions on how to wire themselves. (my bold)

"Even for your brain to just form normally—to develop the rest of the way normally—it expects certain inputs. This is also part of our suite of evolutionary adaptations. The brain is very malleable and it requires care in the form of social interactions with caregivers. It’s not enough just to feed a baby. You have to feed a baby while you are engaged in some kind of social interaction. You don’t just change a baby’s diapers; you have to cuddle it, you have to talk to it, you have to do all these things. And it matters, the words that you speak even to a 3-month-old. The words that you speak matter to the development of that infant’s brain."

Comment: this is a materialism view of a neuroscientist, but her thoughts contain many truths. The first is about lower animals and how their socializing works chemically and by other senses. The second bold, in order, shows how the blank-like infant is developed. My view is that our soul/consciousness develops from infant to adult as the instrument of our brain is developed from a very blank beginning. This brain is God's special gift at the end of evolution


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