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How Do Emotions Work?. By : Jonathan. “An effective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished” ( Basically, a feeling of happiness, sadness, fearfulness, anger, etc. What Is An Emotion?.

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How Do Emotions Work?

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“An effective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished” (

  • Basically, a feeling of happiness, sadness, fearfulness, anger, etc.

What Is An Emotion?

what happens to trigger emotions

Firstly, a stimulus is perceived by the brain(9)

  • Emotions originate by: the patterns of the nerve impulses from the excited neurons (3)
  • Emotions and responses then are regulated by limbic system(1,2, 8)
  • Cannon-Bard Theory: After the event, an emotion is felt, and then an emotional response occurs(7)
  • James-Lange Theory: After the event, an emotional response occurs, followed by the emotion being felt(7)
What Happens to Trigger Emotions
the limbic system

A group of structures in the brain (2, 10)

  • These structures interpret the stimulus and regulate emotions (8, 10)
  • 3 main parts: hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus (2)
  • Each structure contributes to the process of making and controlling emotions and their responses (2, 8)
The Limbic System

Main role is to identify and process the information of the stimulus (1, 5)

  • Guides behaviors and affects decision-making (5)
  • Recognizes if there is a threat present (1, 5)
  • Generates fear and dread when stimulated (1, 5)
  • If danger is sensed, gives the affected a sense of alertness (1)
  • Recognizes facial expressions of others (1)

Organizes and controls complex emotions and the states of motivation (2, 4)

  • Mainly sends information and manages other structures’ functions (1, 4)
  • Regulates autonomic nervous system and has control over emotional responses (2)
  • Is extremely involved in the expression of emotions (1, 2, 4)
  • Regulates amount of pleasure (2)

Transfers emotional information into memory (6)

  • Cause of emotions triggered from memories (1, 6)
  • Can compare a present threat with prior knowledge or past experiences (1)
  • Converts a short-term memory due to an emotion and converts it into long-term if memory is significant enough (2)
cingulate gyrus

Regulates aggression (1)

  • Serves as a pathway between the hippocampus and thalamus (2)
  • Focuses attention on big emotional events (2)
  • The front section combines pleasant memories with smells/sights (1)
Cingulate Gyrus
ventral tegmental area

This area is where dopamine-secreting neurons, dopamine receptors, and dopamine pathways are located (1, 2)

    • Dopamine is a chemical that is found in the body
    • Dopamine is what causes the “reward” feeling
Ventral Tegmental Area

The thalamus’s nuclei are connected with other parts of the limbic system

    • The dorsal (pertaining to the back) nuclei connect with the front of the cerebral cortex
    • The anterior (pertaining to the front) nuclei connect with the hippocampus and cingulate gyrus

Source: (1)

other structures involved

Fornix- Structure that bonds hypothalamus and hippocampus (8)

  • Prefrontal Area- Huge roles in the creation and expression of affective states due to connections(1)
  • Basal Ganglia-Participates in thr regulation of reward experiences, focusing of attention, and repetitive behaviors (2)
Other Structures Involved
the autonomic nervous system

This system is found in the spinal cord

  • Is the cause of emotional responses
  • Regulated by the hypothalamus
  • Two parts:
    • Sympathetic Nervous System: creates emotional responses (it should be noted that this part also causes the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream)
    • Parasympathetic Nervous System: returns body to original state before the stimulus was presented
The Autonomic Nervous System

Source: (2)

how everything works together

Example: You are standing in the middle of a quiet road. Suddenly, you see the headlights of a car and feel worried about being in its path. You are compelled to move out of the way to avoid being hit. How was your feeling of worry created and why did you move out of the way?

How Everything Works Together