Emotions are a huge part of a person’s life. Emotion are essential because it provides information about what is relevant for us. It expresses needs and needs provide a direction towards action. They give meaning to our life story, to our narratives, thus they are fundamental in the construction of self. Neuroimaging studies show that emotion is generated in the subcortical areas of the brain and its “conscious” management is usually associated to pre-frontal cortex activity, which means that in order to use them purposefully, some executive functioning has to be involved. Fear, anger, sadness, happiness, trust, disgust are all human emotions. Emotions determine the reactions of a person in a given situation. Emotions are often considered as social outlaws, because their reactions don’t correspond with socially accepted patterns. A recent study has discovered that emotions are not in born but in fact, are cognitive states resulting from gathering information from the environment.
The research published in journal proceedings of National Academy of Sciences stated that, “the brain mechanisms that give rise to conscious emotional feelings are not fundamentally different from those that give rise to perceptual conscious experiences.”
Joseph LeDoux from New York University’s center for neural science said, “We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain. Specifically, the differences between emotional and non-emotional states are the kinds of inputs that are processed by a general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences.”
According to LeDoux, emotion is a byproduct of behavioral responses that are triggered by survival circuits. Therefore neural pathways responsible for the acquisition of food can trigger emotions of happiness and pleasure after Thanksgiving dinner. Inversely, survival circuits responsible for defenses behavior initiate a fight or flight response, which constitutes fear when the organism has realized that such a response has been triggered. The results showed that the existing work denies that emotions are innately programmed in the brain’s subcortical circuits. Therefore emotions are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli.
Emotions are not a response to what our brain takes in from our observations, but, are intrinsic to our psychological makeup as per the conclusion of the research. After noticing the existing scholarship on both cognition and emotion, the researchers saw a quite different architecture for emotions. The results of this study states emotions as higher-order states embedded in cortical circuits. Therefore, emotional states are similar to other states of consciousness and not innately programmed in our brain.