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Cognition and Emotion. November 12-19, 2009. What is emotion?. Communication mechanisms that maintain social order/structure Behavior learned through operant or classical conditioning or nonassociative learning, not involving deliberate cognitive mediation

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cognition and emotion

Cognition and Emotion

November 12-19, 2009

what is emotion
What is emotion?
  • Communication mechanisms that maintain social order/structure
  • Behavior learned through operant or classical conditioning or nonassociative learning, not involving deliberate cognitive mediation
  • Appraisal of biopsychosocial situation
  • Complex physiological response
  • Integrated, three-response system construct
    • Motor behavior
    • Physiological activity/arousal
    • Cognitive appraisal
areas of inquiry
Areas of Inquiry
  • Effect of emotion on performance (e.g., memory, perception, attention)
  • Information processing characteristics of emotional disorders (e.g., anxiety, depresion)
  • Emotion and social learning
  • Cognitive neuroscience of emotions
    • cognitive structure of emotion
    • neuropsychological studies
    • cognitive aspects of emotion (e.g., appraisal)
introduction history
Introduction & History
  • James-Lange theory
  • Cannon-Bard theory
  • Schacter & Singer studies (2-factor theory)
  • Facial feedback hypothesis
  • Neurobiological contributions (Davis, LeDoux)
  • Neuropsychological perspectives
    • Somatic markers
    • Emotional signal processing
  • Information-processing theories
james lange
  • "My theory ... is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion. Common sense says, we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival, and angry and strike. The hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of sequence is incorrect ... and that the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble ... Without the bodily states following on the perception, the latter would be purely cognitive in form, pale, colorless, destitute of emotional warmth. We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we should not actually feel afraid or angry"
cannon bard
  • We feel emotions first, and then feel physiological changes, such as muscular tension, sweating, etc.
  • In neurobiological terms, the thalamus receives a signal and relays this both to the amygdala (a limbic structure) and the cortex. The body then gets signals via the autonomic nervous system to tense muscles, etc.
two factor theory e g schacter singer
Two-Factor Theory (e.g., Schacter & Singer)
  • When trying to understand what kind of person we are, we first watch what we do and feel and then deduce our nature from this. This means that the first step is to experience physiological arousal. We then try to find a label to explain our feelings, usually by looking at what we are doing and what else is happening at the time of the arousal. Thus we don’t just feel angry, happy or whatever: we experience feelings and then decide what they mean.
cognitive appraisal theory e g lazarus
Cognitive Appraisal Theory (e.g., Lazarus)
  • In the absence of physiological arousal, we decide what to feel after interpreting or explaining what has just happened. Two things are important in this: whether we interpret the event as good or bad for us, and what we believe is the cause of the event.
  • In primary appraisal, we consider how the situation affects our personal well-being. In secondary appraisal we consider how we might cope with the situation.
somatic marker theory
Somatic Marker Theory
  • Bodily states play a role in decision-making and reasoning
  • “Somatic markers” link memories of experience (cortex) with feelings (limbic)
  • Attempts to account for ‘automatic’ or ‘unconscious’ biases


Personality Traits

Emotional Processing

Mood States


Personality Traits

Mood States

Emotional Processing


Personality Traits

Mood States

Emotional Processing

preattentive perception of threat hman
Preattentive Perception of Threat: Öhman
  • Distinction between automatic v. controlled information processing
  • Draws on animal work (LeDoux) - direct thalamic-amygdala connection
  • Threat: biological and ‘derived’
  • Data:
    • responses to masked stimuli
    • slowed RT to threat words in shadowing

“Bambi” (1942) named #20 in Time’s list of the Top 25 Horror Movies of All Time

“Kids were so frightened by these films that they wet themselves in terror. Bambi has a primal shock that still haunts oldsters who saw it 40, 50, 65 years ago.”

flashbulb memories
Flashbulb Memories
  • Distinct, vivid, recollections of shocking events, and associated personal activities
  • Long-lasting? Accurate? Special?
    • Brown & Kulick (1977): special encoding mechanism (NOW PRINT!)
    • Niesser & Harsh (1992) Challenger study
    • Although FM appear to be different subjectively (they provide an intersection between personal history and “History”), they are not necessarily more accurate
    • Confidence is not equivalent to accuracy
flashbulb memories of september 11 2001
Flashbulb Memories of September 11, 2001

valence and memory
Valence and Memory
  • Negative events remembered in more vivid detail than positive events
  • Positive events more associated with memory distortion and inconsistency
  • Positive induced mood leads to greater “false memory”

Neural Substrates of Positive (Fusiform) and Negative (frontal) rcollection; Amygdala active in both

Kensington & Schacter, 2006

bower s network theory a theory of emotional experience
Bower’s Network Theory – a theory of emotional experience
  • Emotions are nodes in a semantic network
  • Emotions stored as propositions
  • Emotion = activation of network
  • Activation spreads in selective fashion to associated concepts
  • When nodes activated above threshold level, conscious experience of emotion results
four predictions from bower s theory
Four Predictions from Bower’s Theory
  • Mood-state-dependent recall
  • Mood congruity: learning best when congruity between learner’s state and type of material (best supported)
  • Thought congruity: thoughts, associations congruent with mood state
  • Mood intensity: increases in intensity (arousal) lead to greater activation of network
mood effects on attention and memory
Mood Effects on Attention and Memory
  • Negative memory bias
    • found with depressed and anxious normals
    • not consistently found with anxious patients (active avoidance?)
  • Mood vs. emotion
  • Effects on processing capacity (resources allocated to self-talk)

Emotional Stroop






basis of dot probe results
Basis of Dot Probe Results
  • Selective attention to threat (McLeod)
  • Failure to ‘disengage’ attention from threat (Koster, et al 2004)

RT to N-N trials

Koster, et al (2004)

weapon focus
Weapon Focus
  • Eyewitness’ inability to identify a perpetrator when a weapon is used in a crime
  • Easterbrook hypothesis: narrowing of attentional focus in emotional situations
  • Arousal and central/peripheral detail
basis of weapon focus
Basis of Weapon Focus?
  • Simple selective attention
  • All items attended to equally, but weapon remembered better
  • Cue-utilization (threat-arousal-narrowing)
  • Unusualness/distinctiveness
  • Effect sizes: lineup ident < feature accuracy
emotion and performance
Emotion and Performance
  • Performance impaired by high levels of state anxiety
    • Yerkes-Dodson Law
      • performance is optimal with a ‘medium’ level of arousal
      • ‘optimum’ level lower for hard tasks
    • Cognitive Interference theory (Sarason): worry and self-preoccupation interfere
    • Processing Efficiency Theory (Eysenck): processing efficiency = effectiveness/effort; worry reduces efficiency
  • Performance in depression
    • impaired both by task-irrelevant information and poor effort/motivation
    • most studies are of an anologue nature, though a few patient studies are available
anxiety and attention
Anxiety and Attention
  • Selective attention toward threat-related material(selective attentional bias; e.g. dot-probe, emotional Stroop)
  • Distractibility (  attentional control)
  • Effects on breadth of attention (more local spotlight)
  • Interpretive bias: interpreting ambiguous materials as threatening (e.g., “The doctor examined little Emily’s growth”)
  • Anxiety and preattentive processing
  • Little evidence for attentional bias in depression
  • Interpretive/recall biases in depression
    • Interpreting ambiguous situations as negative
    • Reduced predictions of success on cognitive tasks
    • Recall of past performance reduced

Failure to Disengage from Negative Information in Dysphoric Patients (Koster, et al, Emotion, 2005)

CV=RT(invalid) – RT(valid)

discrete emotions theory
Discrete Emotions Theory
  • Emotions are distinct and unique states (e.g., fear, anger, etc.)
  • ‘Basic’ or ‘primary’ emotions - Tomkins lists 8 (hap, sad, anger, fear disgust, surprise, interest, shame)
  • Search for response patterning in emotions (Friesen, Ekman, etc.)
  • Cross-cultural comparisons
bioinformational theory lang
Bioinformational Theory (Lang)
  • Emotions as action predispositions
  • Dimensional view of emotions
    • affective valence (appetitive-aversive dimension)
    • arousal (resource recruitement)
  • Link between emotional and motivational behavior

Discrete v. Dimensional Models (Christie, 2002)





Activation v. Approach/Withdrawal

Activation v. Valence

neuropsychological findings
Neuropsychological Findings
  • Neuropsychological studies of affective competence (RHD)
  • “Modular” organization of affective systems (?)
  • Modality-independent affective lexicon
  • Valence-related asymmetries
emotion and the brain three general hypotheses
Emotion and the Brain: Three General Hypotheses
  • Right Hemisphere dominance for emotion
  • Hemispheric laterality for mood
    • Positive/approach: left hemisphere
    • Negative/withdrawal: right hemisphere
  • Automatic-controlled distinction (RH v. LH

Negative - Neutral

Positive - Neutral

localized damage and emotion
Localized “Damage” and Emotion
  • Awakening from WADA
    • Right Hemisphere: crying, anxiety
    • Left Hemisphere: laughing, excitement
  • Acute Structural Lesion (stroke)
    • Right Hemisphere: indifference, ?secondary mania
    • Left Hemisphere: depression (frontal)
neuropsychiatric disorders
Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • Depression
  • Secondary Mania
  • OCD
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression/disinhibition
  • Psychopathy/APD

Neuropsychological Manifestations of Frontal Lobe Lesions II

Inferior Mesial Region

A)Orbital Region(10, 11)

Lesions in this region produce disinhibition, altered social conduct, “acquired sociopathy”, and other disturbances due to impairment in fronto-limbic relationships

B)Basal Forebrain(posterior extension of inferior mesial region, including diagonal band of Broca, nucleus accumbens, septal nuclei, substantia innominata)

Lesions here produce prominent anterograde amnesia with confabulation (material specificity present, but relatively weak)

Tranel, 1992


Neuropsychological Manifestations of Frontal Lobe Lesions III

Lateral Prefrontal Region (8,9,46)

Lesions in this region produce impairment in a variety of “executive” skills that cut across domains. Some degree of material-specificity is present, but relatively weak.

A) Fluency: impaired verbal fluency (left) or design fluency (right)

B) Memory impairments: defective recency judgment, metamemory defects, difficulties in memory monitoring

C) Impaired abstract concept formation and hypothesis testing

D) Defective planning, motor sequencing

E) Defective cognitive judgement and estimation

Tranel, 1992


Neuropsychological Manifestations of Frontal Lesions I

Frontal Operculum (44,45,47)

A) Left: Broca’s aphasia

B) Right: ‘expressive’ aprosodia

Superior Mesial (mesial 6, 24)

A) Left: akinetic mutism

B) Right: akinetic mutism

Bilateral lesions of mesial SMA (6) and anterior cingulate (24) produce more severe form of akinetic mutism

Tranel, 1992


Phineas Gage

(1823-1861, accident in 1848)


Phineas Gage’s lesion reconstructed

(H. Damasio and R. Frank, 1992)

ventromedial prefrontal cortex and somatic markers
Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex and Somatic Markers
  • Somatic marker “biasing signals” are regulated by VM premotor cortex; these signals help regulate decision-making in uncertainty
  • Support from Iowa Gambling Task; anticipatory SCR’s to selection of “unfavorable” decks
    • Impaired in VMPFC

Actual Body Actions

Expected Body Actions

(Internal Model)

problems with smt
Problems with SMT
  • Assertion that IGT preferences formed “implicitly” is untenable
  • Meaning of psychophsyiological response is unclear (response to feedback, risk indicator, post-decision emotion reaction)
  • Not all “normal controls” are normal

(Dunn et al., Neurosci Biobehav Reviews, 2006, 30, 239-271)

mirror neuron system
Mirror Neuron System
  • Class of neurons in F5 (BA 44) and ventral premotor cortex that discharge both:
    • when animal performs object-directed action
    • when animal observes OD action in others
  • Subset appear to be “communicative” motor neurons
  • Functions
    • Imitation
    • Action understanding
  • Potentially important for understanding social learning and imitation effects
  • Being investigated in social-emotional impairments such as autism, Asperger’s disorder, and schizophrenia
  • May be important in “empathy”
action vision mirror neuron system
Action Vision – Mirror Neuron System

Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004


Mirror Neuron Responses to Action Observation (Umiltá, 2001)

Full view (a,c)

Obstructed view (b,d)

cortical subcortical interactions in emotion
Cortical-Subcortical Interactions in Emotion
  • General concept of limbic system as “emotional effector”
  • Question is, “what is the limbic system?”
  • Regulatory interaction between cortex and subcortical structures
  • Gating
  • Selective engagement

General Organization of Frontal cortical-striatal-pallidal-thalamic-cortical loops

orbitofrontal loop
Orbitofrontal Loop
  • Involved in social and emotional functioning
  • Damage produces:
    • Disinhibition
    • Hyperactivity
    • Emotional lability
    • Aggressiveness
    • Reduced self-awareness