Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion

By Nancy L. Stein; Bennett Leventhal et al. | Go to book overview

6
Neocortical Substrates of Emotional Behavior

Bryan Kolb

Laughlin Taylor

University of Lethbridge


INTRODUCTION

Virtually all the activities of central nervous system activity contribute to an individual's emotional behavior. Any changes in these activities can therefore affect how an individual expresses behavior or perceives the behavior of others. Nevertheless, the scientific study of the physiological basis of emotional behavior lags far behind the study of cognitive functions, in large part due to the difficulties in defining, recording, and evaluating this behavior. The goal of this chapter is to comment on these difficulties by summarizing the contribution of recent neuropsychological evidence to the understanding of the role of the neo- cortex in emotional behavior.

Interest in the biology of emotions dates back to Darwin's work, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872. In this book Darwin attempted to explain the origin and development of the principal expressive behaviors in humans and other animals. Darwin believed that human emotional expression could only be understood in the context of the expressions of other animals for, he suggested, our emotional behavior is determined by our evolution. Although Darwin's book was a best seller, its influence was short- lived and temporarily forgotten. Psychologists began to speculate about emotions by the turn of the century, but with little knowledge about the neural bases of emotional behavior. By the 1930s many studies began to examine the relationship between autonomic, endocrine and neurohumoral factors, and inferred emotional states, with particular emphasis on measuring indices like heart rate, blood pressure, and skin temperature (for reviews, see Brady, 1960; Dunbar,

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