|Emotions are cognitive, not innate, researchers conclude
||[Feb. 16th, 2017|06:24 am]
I find it interesting to read that upon a survey of the literature, these researchers seem to say that they're concluding that people's emotions are not in fact 'hardwired,' but emerge as a spontaneous experience resulting from the structure of their minds.
Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, New York University Professor Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown, a professor at the City University of New York, conclude in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...
Existing work posits that emotions are innately programmed in the brain's subcortical circuits. As a result, emotions are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. In other words, emotions aren't a response to what our brain takes in from our observations, but, rather, are intrinsic to our makeup.
However, after taking into account existing scholarship on both cognition and emotion, LeDoux and Brown see a quite different architecture for emotions—one more centered on process than on composition. They conclude that emotions are "higher-order states" embedded in cortical circuits. Therefore, unlike present theories, they see emotional states as similar to other states of consciousness.
It makes me think back to over a decade of put-downs from then-trusted friends, always telling me that the things I felt were somehow wrong because they were not the same things that they themselves imagined they might feel in my shoes. The presumptuousness and implicit condescension of it was odious even then, but I sat objections aside, after all, maybe they were right and my emotional inner life was somehow degenerate. Now, I look back and I can't believe the way I let those people treat me, exchanging my hamhanded gestures of love for their scorn.
Beyond personal reflection, I think this research has very interesting implications for an individual who is blazing a path through life for their own identity. And I think that maybe the best hope I see in all of this is that it bolsters the idea that living in a state of love is an acquired and acquirable skill.