Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion

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

8
The Neuropsychology of Emotion: Developmental Patterns and Implications for Psychopathology

Wendy Heller University of Chicago


INTRODUCTION

The investigative approaches to the study of human emotion have emphasized both cognitive ( Lazarus, 1982, 1984) and biological factors ( Kelley & Stinus, 1984). Despite the insights produced by these studies, there have been few attempts to integrate the cognitive and biological aspects of emotional function. In most of the influential theories of emotion, physiological correlates of emotional experience are acknowledged to be crucial ( James, 1890; Mandler, 1984; Schacter & Singer, 1962), but these formulations have focused on functions of the autonomic nervous system, ignoring higher order control mechanisms in the brain. Biological models of emotion, on the other hand, have concentrated primarily on neurological mechanisms and have failed to translate these processes into a coherent theory of emotional behavior ( Panksepp, 1985; Swerdlow & Koob, 1987).

Recent research in neuropsychology, a field specifically interested in the link between behavior and brain organization, brings a new and integrative perspective to the study of human emotion. Research on brain-damaged, split-brain, and normal subjects, carried out over the past 30 years, has contributed a great deal to our understanding of the way the cerebral cortex is organized for speech, language, and visuospatial abilities. It is now well established that the left hemisphere is specialized to comprehend language and to control speech production (e.g. Levy & Trevarthen, 1976; Sperry, Gazzaniga, & Bogen, 1969; Zaidel, 1977), whereas the right hemisphere is specialized to comprehend the relationships between objects in space and the meaning of complex non-linguistic

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