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.
24 Mar 2005