In The Cognitive-Emotional Brain: From Interactions to Integration neuroscientist Luiz Pessoa argues that emotion and cognition are deeply intertwined throughout many levels of the brain. In a recent interview (BSP 106) Pessoa and I focused on recent discoveries about the amygdala and Thalamus that challenge traditional assumptions about what these structures do. The amygdala processes more than fear (and other negative stimuli) and the Thalamus is more than a mere relay station.
This a fairly technical discussion but Pessoa did a good job of making the material accessible to all listeners. The reason I think these concepts matter is that not only do they challenge overly simplistic notions of how the brain works, but they also challenge our tendency to see emotion and cognition as separate and often opposing processes.
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References and Additional Reading
Pessoa L, Adolphs R. (2010) "Emotion processing and the amygdala: from a 'low road' to 'many roads' of evaluating biological significance.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(11):773-83. doi: 10.1038/nrn2920.
Networks of the Brain by Olaf Sporns
In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric R. Kandel (BSP 3)
Visit Dr. Pessoa's lab at emotioncognition.org to learn more.
BSP 11: Emotion
BSP 32: a brief introduction to Neuroanatomy
BSP 90: a discussion of Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain by Antonio Damasio.
Please check out my other podcast Books and Ideas. I will be posting a new episode by the end of February.
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