The Brain and the Book - Session 9


  • March 13. What Are Emotions? We will be looking at the neurological theory of emotions.
    1. Bownds, ch. 10, pp. 228-261
    2. Pally, "Emotional Processing." Handout
    3. Bear, et al., Neuroscience, ch. 16, pp. 432-456. Handout
    4. Oatley and Johnson-Laird. NNH summary.

  • Session 9. March 13. What Are Emotions? We will be looking at the neurological theory of emotions. Obviously, basic to literature in many aspects, but the neurology is not clear. Basic principle: "content" (i.e., our reading) of literature is frontal cortex stuff; emotions are subcortical projecting to frontal and to body.
      1. Bownds, ch. 10, pp. 228-261. V useful diagrams.
        1. Would Fodor's attack on horizontal faculty psychology apply to emotions. Fodor sez, No such thing as "memory," "judgment." Could we say, No such thing as fear, as love, as anger? Brothers (later, re audience) sez no such thing as emotions, only dispositions to response.
        2. Emotions as derived from social exchange? 233.1-5: do computers feel emotions?
        3. 233. Know norepinephrine, acetylcholine, 239 dopamine, 238.9 serotonin, 240 opiods.
        4. 238-39. Drugs mimic neurotransmitters, mostly dopamine, but Ecstasy mimics serotonin; and the opiates the opioids. Screw up receptors.
        5. 242.7 ventral prefrontal cortext --who? Schore.
        6. 244.9 He's describing "prosody." Emotional aspects of speech. Not available in lit? Email problem.
        7. 253.8. Cognitive therapy, but cp. psac insight.
        8. Amygdala and fear.
        9. 262. Study question 1 good. Question 4 is fun to speculate about. Is Mr. Spock an accurate picture? He doesn't laugh. Doctor is all emotion. Kirk in between.

      2. Pally, "Emotional Processing"
        1. Fear while reading a detective story. How do movies induce fear? Cortex means v. non-cortex (visual effects).
        2. 353a4. You can fear in situations where stimulation is ucs.
        3. 353b2. Bias toward fear. Note that SF thought anxiety brought defenses to bear. Hobson: commonest affect in dreams is fear, anxiety.
        4. 359a8-b2. Empathy. We do not have these cues in literature.
        5. Key: emotion regulates feedback (parallel processing?) Sense of "rightness." Cognition depends on emotion. Psac: SF's second theory of defenses: come into play at a signal of anxiety/danger; affect what you perceive, how you deal with what you perceive.

      3. Bear, et al., Neuroscience, ch. 16, pp. 432-456. Handout
        1. Know the theories by name.
        2. Know the key terms.
          Emotion Neurotransmitter Areas and circuits

          Fear Norepinephrine, cortisol amygdala:
             basolateral nuclei
             corticomedial nuclei
             central nucleus
          Predatory aggression
          Affective aggression
          Serotonin Hypothalamus
             Medial forebrain bundle
             Dorsal longitudinal fasciculus
             Periaqueductal gray
          Reinforcement (pleasure?) Dopamine Medial forebrain bundle
             and associated nuclei

        3. Self-stimulation. Pinker's claim that lit and other arts hijack the pleasure centers.

      4. Oatley and Johnson-Laird. What's missing in approaches above? Start with neurology, animals, emotions easily tested. Lose sense of one's emotional experience of literature.

        Oatley, Keith, ed. Best Laid Schemes: The Psychology of Emotions. Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction. Cambridge UK: Cambridge UP, 1992.

            5 basic emotions: Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust

            Index has no entries for brain, amygdala, hypothalamus. This is a purely philosophical-psychological approach. He deliberately rejects a nat sci approach (p72) as having lost touch with the human realities which are the real phenomena to be explained. Hence, he uses a lot of literature: Homer, Karenina, Middlemarch, Sappho, Donne's Valediction, Freud's Dora, Proust, Joanna Field (never identifying her as Marion Milner), Penelope Lively.

            Much use of Philip Johnson-Lard.

            Rejects James' theory stated: emotion terms arise from folk theories but have no coherent psychological status.

            His & Johnson-Laird's theory is that emotions are the way modules within the mind communicate with one another. Their theory is one special case of "conflict and evaluation theories." These say that emotions occur when a tendency toward action is arrested and a person becomes focused not on the activity but on the self. They add the idea that the focus in discussing emotion shld be not on behavior (flight, sweaty palms), but on the goals. Then the emotions communicate evaluations to other modules, either semaantically or nonpropositionally (i.e., like a burglar alarm).

        P. 55:
        Emotion (mode) Juncture of current plan State and goals to which transition occurs
        Happiness Subgoals being achieved Continue with plan, modifying if necessary
        Sadness Failure of major plan or loss of active goal Do nothing or search for new plan
        Fear Self-preservation goal threatened or goal conflict Stop current plan, attend vigilantly to environment, freeze and/or escape
        Anger Active plan frustrated Try harder and/or aggress
        Disgust Gustatory goal violated Reject substance and/or withdraw

        261.8: "George Eliot's art allows a kind of experimentation within the self that may promoted understanding of our own emotions and their relation to other people." Use phrase experimentation within the self in the Why Literature section?

        Session 10. March 20. How Did You Become You (2)? Identity from inside. And we will be looking at learning and memory.

        1. Identity from inside. Sense of self.
          1. Gazzaniga, Nature's Mind, pp. 120-137. Handout
          2. Damasio, Feeling of What Happens, pp. 15-26, 174, 175. Handout
        2. Learning and Memory
          1. Bownds, Biology of Mind, chs. 10 and 12, pp. 229-263 and 285-311.
          2. Blakeslee, "Brain-Updating Machinery." Handout
          3. Pally, "Memory." Handout
          4. Pally, "How Brain Development is Shaped." Handout