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REVIEW: NEUROSCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY Emotion, Cognition, and Behavior R. J. Dolan Emotion is central to the quality and range of everyday human experience. The neurobiological substrates of human emotion are now attracting increasing interest within the neurosciences motivated, to a considerable extent, by advances in func- tional neuroimaging techniques. An emerging theme is the question of how emotion interacts with and influences other domains of cognition, in particular attention, memory, and reasoning. The psychological consequences and mechanisms underlying the emotional modulation of cognition provide the focus of this article. A n ability to ascribe value to events in the world, a product of evolutionary selective processes, is evident across phylogeny ( 1 ). Value in this sense refers to an organism’s facility to sense whether events in its environment are more or less desirable. Within this framework, emotions represent complex psychological and physiological states that, to a greater or lesser degree, index occurrences of value. It follows that the range of emotions to which an organism is suscep- tible will, to a high degree, reflect on the complexity of its adaptive niche. In higher order primates, in particular humans, this in- volves adaptive demands of physical, socio- cultural, and interpersonal contexts. The importance of emotion to the variety of human experience is evident in that what we notice and remember is not the mundane but events that evoke feelings of joy, sorrow, plea- sure, and pain. Emotion provides the principal currency in human relationships as well as the motivational force for what is best and worst in human behavior. Emotion exerts a powerful influence on reason and, in ways neither under- stood nor systematically researched, contributes to the fixation of belief. A lack of emotional equilibrium underpins most human unhappi- ness and is a common denominator across the entire range of mental disorders from neuroses to psychoses, as seen, for example, in obses- sive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizo- phrenia. More than any other species, we are beneficiaries and victims of a wealth of emo- tional experience. In this article I discuss recent develop- ments in the study of human emotion where, for example, a neurobiological account of fear, anger, or disgust is an increasingly ur- gent goal. Progress in emotion research mir- rors wider advances in cognitive neuro- sciences where the idea of the brain as an information processing system provides a highly influential metaphor. An observation by the 19th-century psychologist, William James, questions the ultimate utility of a purely mind-based approach to human emo- tion. James surmised that “if we fancy some strong emotion, and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all the feelings of its bodily symptoms, we find we have nothing left behind, no mind-stuff out of which the emotion can be constituted, and that a cold and neutral state of intellectual perception is
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2009 for the course PS 333 taught by Professor Otto during the Spring '09 term at BU.

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