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Feeling Our Emotions

Feeling Our Emotions | Brain & Consciousness | Scoop.it

According to noted neurologist Antonio R. Damasio, joy or sorrow can emerge only after the brain registers physical changes in the body


MIND: You differentiate between feelings and emotions. How so?

 

Damasio: In everyday language we often use the terms interchangeably. This shows how closely connected emotions are with feelings. But for neuroscience, emotions are more or less the complex reactions the body has to certain stimuli. When we are afraid of something, our hearts begin to race, our mouths become dry, our skin turns pale and our muscles contract. This emotional reaction occurs automatically and unconsciously. Feelings occur after we become aware in our brain of such physical changes; only then do we experience the feeling of fear.

 

MIND: So, then, feelings are formed by emotions?

 

Damasio: Yes. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. It then processes the signals in neural maps, which it then compiles in the so-called somatosensory centers. Feelings occur when the maps are read and it becomes apparent that emotional changes have been recorded--as snapshots of our physical state, so to speak.

 

Scientific American

24 Mar 2005

 


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The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World | Brain & Consciousness | Scoop.it

Why is the brain divided? Despite much research and speculation, neurologists have struggled to make sense of hemisphere differences, or of their impact on human thought and experience.

 

In this remarkable and absorbing book, Iain McGilchrist argues that the two hemispheres have not merely different skills, but wholly different perspectives on the world. Drawing on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with fascinating case material, he suggests that the left hemisphere is designed to exploit the world effectively, but is narrow in focus and prizes theory over experience. It prefers mechanisms to living things, ignores whatever is not explicit, lacks empathy, and is unreasonably certain of itself. By contrast, the right hemisphere has a much broader, more generous understanding of the world, but lacks the certainty to counter this onslaught, because what it knows is more subtle and many-faceted.


It is vital that the two hemispheres work together, but in Western culture there is evidence of a power struggle, with the left hemisphere becoming increasingly dominant. The result is a dehumanized society, where a rigid and bureaucratic mentality, obsessed with structure and mechanism, holds sway, at huge cost to human happiness and the world around us.

 

Iain McGilchrist's book on Amazon.com

 

 


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Buddhism and the Brain

Buddhism and the Brain | Brain & Consciousness | Scoop.it

Neuroscience tells us the thing we take as our unified mind is an illusion, that our mind is not unified and can barely be said to “exist” at all. Our feeling of unity and control is a post-hoc confabulation and is easily fractured into separate parts. As revealed by scientific inquiry, what we call a mind (or a self, or a soul) is actually something that changes so much and is so uncertain that our pre-scientific language struggles to find meaning.

Buddhists say pretty much the same thing. They believe in an impermanent and illusory self made of shifting parts. They’ve even come up with language to address the problem between perception and belief. Their word for self is anatta, which is usually translated as ‘non self.’ One might try to refer to the self, but the word cleverly reminds one’s self that there is no such thing.

David Weisman
SEEDMAGAZINE.COM


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ddrrnt's curator insight, December 14, 2012 10:50 PM

The anatta is in a state of impermanence, called anicca.  Consciousness is envisioned as a wave of momentary mental states. 


Weisman asks, "Why have the dominant Western religious traditions gotten their permanent, independent souls so wrong?"



Nur Svsc 's curator insight, March 16, 2013 12:19 AM

A good book on the subject is 'The Dalai Lama at MIT' -- a  2008 collection of the papers and research discussed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, a unique dialogue between Buddhist practioners and neurosecientists on the issues of perception, subjectivity, concentration, emotion and perspectivism.