Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions

By Jaak Panksepp | Go to book overview

The effect has also been used to focus investigators' attention on the possibility that unconscious evaluative processes may be important in the generation of emotional states and judgments. 92 Indeed, it is possible that this phenomenon may be reflected in the many psychobehavioral processes described in this chapter. If so, it would be important to clarify the neurobiological underpinnings of the mere-exposure effect, but relevant research is scarce.

It might be worthwhile to consider whether some of the chemistries that participate in the elaboration of social processes may also play a role in the generation of this interesting phenomenon. 93 Might opioids and oxytocin, as well as other bonding chemistries, be important in molding and modulating the mere-exposure effect? Conversely, what might be the role of other affectively positive neurochemistries such as dopamine, which do not appear to be important for bonding? If we begin to understand the mere-exposure effect, we may also shed light on what it means to feel relaxed and comfortable in a given situation. The mere-exposure effect may be a major affective process that allows animals to become accustomed to new situations efficiently. Is the feeling of déjà vu generated by the release of such chemistries? The mere-exposure effect may be an especially beneficial adaptation for animals that migrate, as well as for ones that are exposed to a variety of social stimuli.

Indeed, social tolerance may be promoted by mere exposure. Recall the young cats that were brought up with rats (see Chapter 2); they did not attack rats when they became adults. This speaks strongly for the benefits of exposing children to a diversity of other individuals and cultures when they are young. The more they have experienced of the world, the more accepting they will be of diversity. Wise governments will promote the use of mass media for such purposes, rather than undermining support for public broadcasting, educational endeavors, and endowments for the humanities, as is popular in some reactionary quarters.

In sum, specific brain systems he at the heart of complex neuroevolutionary programs that generate the deeply social nature of mammals. Psychobiologists have started to recognize and untangle the neural underpinnings that control social motivation within the old mammalian brain. Nurturant behaviors can become a habit, at least partly independent of the basic brain substrates from which they were initially constructed. The potential implications of such lines of investigation are profound.


*3*Suggested Readings

Alexander, R. D. ( 1987). The biology of moral systems. Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter.

Bowlby, J. ( 1972). Attachment and loss. Vol. 1, Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

Emde, R., & Harmon, R. (eds.) ( 1982). The development of attachment and affiliative systems. New York: Plenum Press.

Fletcher, D. J. C., & Michener, C. D. (eds.) ( 1987). Kin recognition in animals. London: Wiley.

Harlow, H. F. ( 1971). Learning to love. San Francisco: Albion.

Klaus, M. H., & Kennell, J. H. ( 1976). Maternal-infant bonding. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby.

Knobil, E., & Neill, J. D. (eds.) ( 1988). The physiology of reproduction. New York: Raven Press.

Krasnegor, N. A., & Bridges, R. S. (eds.) ( 1990). Mammalian parenting: Biochemical, neurobiological, and behavioral determinants. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Pedersen, C. A., Caldwell, J. D., Jirikowski, G. F., & Insel, T. R. (eds.) ( 1992). Oxytocin in maternal, sexual and behaviors. Special issue of Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 652. New York: New York Academy of Sciences.

Winberg, J., & Kjellmer, I. (eds.) ( 1994). The neurobiology of infant-parent interaction in the newborn period. Acta Paediatrica, Vol. 83, Suppl. 397. Oslo: Scandinavian Univ. Press.

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