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Emotions are cognitive, not innate.

Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but rather are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Richard Brown, professor of philosophy at the City University of New York's LaGuardia College, and Joseph LeDouxu, founder of the Emotional Brain Institute who also is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University.

"We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain," explains LeDoux. "Specifically, the differences between emotional and nonemotional states are the kinds of inputs that are processed by a general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences."

As a result, Brown and LeDoux observe, "The brain mechanisms that give rise to conscious emotional feelings are not fundamentally different from those that give rise to perceptual conscious experiences."

Their paper addresses a notable gap in neuroscience theory. While emotions, or feelings, are the most-significant events in our lives, there has been relatively little integration of theories of emotion and emerging theories of consciousness in cognitive science.

Existing work posits that emotions innately are programmed in the brain's subcortical circuits. As a result, emotions often are treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. In other words, emotions are not 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, Brown and LeDoux 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.

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Title Annotation:Psychiatry
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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