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EMOTION: COGNITIVE AND BIOLOGICAL INFLUENCES

To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion?


(LeDoux short and long routes theory; Cognitive Factors: Lazarus Appraisal theory)

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN?


Do you remember where you where when the attack happened on the twin towers? Your first day of school? You probably remember these events when others, no matter how significant, may be forgotten Why do we clearly remember some events and forget others?

The key appears to be that we remember better those experiences that involve emotions Emotions are rich and diverse, and they are often what makes the experience something special The famous brain researcher Antonio Damasio (1994) explains that emotions are purely physical signals of the body which react to external stimuli. Feelings arise when the brain interprets these emotions.

EMOTIONS CONSIST OF THREE COMPONENTS :


1. Physiological changes, such as activation of the of the Hypothalamic ANS and HPAC pathways that are not conscious.
The persons own subjective feeling of an emotion (e.g. happiness) Associated behavior, such as smiling or running away (Damasio, 1994)

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BIOLOGICAL FACTORS

According to brain researchers, emotions serve as a guide to evaluate how important situations are, and it is not necessarily a conscious process

Cognitive psychologists like Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have suggested that it is not the emotions as such that is important, but how people appraise the situation and cope with it.
Cognitive appraisal is simply an interpretation of the physiological signals

A perceived dangerous event (stressor) will result in a physiological response known as fight or flight, which prepares the individual for direct action to confront the danger or avoid it, and a Psychological cognitive appraisal of the arousal that is a decision of what to do, based on previous experiences (hippocampus)

BIOLOGICAL FACTORS IN EMOTIONS: THE LONG AND SHORT ROUTE TO THE STRESS
RESPONSE SYSTEM
The

amygdala is a small structure in the limbic system that appears to be critical in the brains emotional circuits
is also believed to play a critical role in emotional memories (e.g. Clive Wearings amygdala remained intact) of animals and humans indicate that the stress response system is activated (HPAC/ ANS) when strong emotions are evoked

It

Studies

LINK TO THE BIO LOA

Find your notes on the stress response. Review the two loops which are activated in the face of a stressor.

With a partner identify an example of an emotional response.


Apply the diagram to the example and explain.

The thin arrows show the hypothalamic-ANS-Adrenal medulla pathway (colour in green)

Stressor

Higher Brain Centres (cortex & limbic systems) Activates The ANS sympathetic subdivision Via the brainstem Brainstem

The thick arrows show the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal cortex (HPAC) Pathway (colour in red) This is where the LONG ROUTE (APPRASIAL by neo cortex/ hippocampus) or SHORT ROUTE (direct to thalamus to HPAC/ Hypo ANS pathways) is activated
Metabolic effects on the body (higher heart rate & blood pressure to get oxygen to muscles)

Hypothalamus
CRH Hormone

Pituitary gland ACTH in bloodstream

Neural control via autonomic nervous system

Adrenal cortex Adrenal medulla

Corticosteroids In bloodstream

Adrenaline and Noradrenaline in Bloodstream (increases heart Rate & blood pressure)

The LONG and SHORT route to the stress response system

In his book, The Emotional Brain LeDoux (1999) describes TWO biological pathways of emotions in the brain The first is the short route that goes from the thalamus (relay station between cortex and lower brain structures) to the amygdala (in the limbic system), before activating the stress response system The second is the long route that passes via the neo cortex (higher brain centers) and the hippocampus (memory) before it results in an emotional response. The amygdala receives input from sensory processing area in the neo cortex and the thalamus, and projects these to areas in the Brainstem (Hypothalamic ANS Pathway) and the Hypothalamus (HPAC Pathway) It is the connection between the different brain structures that allows the amygdala to transform sensory information into emotional signals and initiate and control emotional responses

LE DOUX

Short Route
stressor

Long Route
stressor thalamus Amygdala

thalamus

Amygdala Neocortex/ Hippocampus (appraisal) Stress response system (HPAC/ Hypo ANS)

Amygdala
Stress response system (HPAC/ Hypo ANS)

Application
E.g. A woman is walking home, late in the evening. At the next corner, she sees a man waiting. She just read in the newspaper a story about a women being raped, so she is afraid and her heart begins to race. She walks slowly as to if to prepare for what may come. This is the physiological arousal, the fight or flight response which prepares for a reaction to a stressful experience. When the women is just about to pass the man, he comes toward he saying, excuse me, I am lost. Could you tell me where Linner Street is?. The woman realizes she has misjudged the situation and relaxes/ she tells the man where the street is and continues walking calmly to her home.

How can this be explained in terms of the short and long route?

SUGGESTION.
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The emotional stimulus (a man who could be a potential aggressor) is first processed in the thalamus which sends a signal to the amygdala. The perception of the potential stressor enables the amygdala to send signals to the body (HPAC/ Hypothalamic ANS pathways) so that it can prepare for action (SHORT DIRECT ROUTE ACTIVATED). At the same time, the thalamus sends information via the indirect pathway to the neo cortex and hippocampus for closer inspection. (LONG INDIRECT ROUTE ACTIVATED) This results in a more detailed evaluation of the stimulus an appraisal and the outcome of this is sent to the amygdala. In the example above, the woman became aware that there is no danger, so she relaxes (parasympathetic activation of the ANS pathway). *Most of these processes are non-conscious.*

According to LeDoux (1999), the advantage of having a direct and indirect pathways to the amygdala and the stress response system is flexibility in response. In the case of danger, the fast and direct pathway is useful because it saves time. This could be important in matters of life and death.

On the other hand, the long pathway allows for a more thorough evaluation of a situation, which can help people and animals to avoid inappropriate responses to situations.

Reflection: Based on LeDouxs (1999) theory of a long and short route biological pathways of emotion in the brain, to what extent do biological factors interact in emotion?

QUESTIONS TO CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING:


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According to Damasio emotions are purely.. What are the three components of emotion? What is an appraisal? What brain structures are involved in LeDouxs long route biological emotional response? What brain structures are involved in the short route of LeDouxs biological emotional response? What does the indirect or long pathway involve that the short pathway does not? What is the advantage of having two pathways?

COGNITIVE FACTORS IN EMOTION: APPRAISAL


According to Lazarus (1975) appraisals are evaluations related to how the situation will impact on ones personal well-being. Positive emotions emerge if the appraisal assess potential benefit Negative emotions emerge in the appraisal assess potential harm. Lazarus (1975) claimed that cognitive appraisal is an important part of peoples reaction to emotional stress and stressful experiences are not only physiological but also psychological

People

are psychological beings who are not simply passively responding to the world, they actively interpret what is happening to them (a principle of the cog LOA) & Folkman (1984) suggested that an individuals experience of stress can be moderated by a number of factors, which include appraisal of threat and appraisal of ones own resources for dealing with the stressor.

Lazarus

They

are influence by personal characteristics such as motivation, beliefs about ones self and the world, and environmental variables such as the nature of the danger and the strength of ones social networks.

Folkman and Lazarus (1988) found that people use different strategies in stressful situations. One of them the called problem focused coping, which aimed to change the problematic situation that causes emotional stress.

They called the other emotion focused coping where the purpose is to handle the emotions rather than changing the problematic situation. Some of the methods used here are escape, self control over expression of emotions, seeking social support, or attempting to provide a positive reappraisal of the situation.

RESEARCH SUPPORT FOR LAZARUS (1975) APPRAISAL THEORY: SPEISMAN ET AL. (1964) STUDY OF THE MANIPULATION OF EMOTIONAL APPRAISAL

Several studies have supported the suggestion that appraisal can have an effect on the way people cope with emotional arousal. In a classic experiment Speisman et al (1964) showed participants a film called sub incision . The film showed initiation ceremony involving unpleasant genital surgery a right of passage for young adolescent boys in a primitive society. The aim of the study was to investigate if peoples emotional reaction the unpleasant film could be manipulated. An independent measures design was used.
This was done by showing the film with three different soundtracks. In condition one, the trauma condition, included a soundtrack which emphasized pain and mutilation. In the second condition, the denial condition, the soundtrack showed the participants willing and happy. In condition three, the intellectualization condition, the soundtrack gave the anthropological interpretation of the ceremony. The experiment deliberately manipulated the participants appraisal of the situation and evaluated the effect of the type of appraisal on their emotional response using a self report questionnaire, and also a heart rate monitor.

The results of self report questionnaires and heart rate monitoring showed that participants reacted more emotionally to the trauma condition (higher heart rate, and responses showing high emotional responses on the self report questionnaire). This seems to support Lazarus's theory.
Maybe it is not the events themselves that illicit emotional stress, but rather the individual interpretation or appraisal of these events

This could also be seen to as support to LeDouxs theory of two biological pathways in the brain, as cognitive appraisal involves the hippocampus and neo cortex.
You might ask if a study like this can say anything about real life. It was a laboratory study with the manipulation of variables which always raises the issue of artificiality. There were also ethical issues involved here, because the research deliberately used deception and put participants in unpleasant situation. In conclusion, cognitive seems to influence the emotional reaction, so this study could then illustrate how cognitive and biological factors interact with emotion.

Reflection: Based on Lazarus (1975) theory of a cognitive appraisal of emotion and the research support from Speisman et al. (1964) and Rubin et al.s (2000) study to what extent do cognitive factors interact in emotion?

COGNITION & EMOTION: QUESTIONS TO CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING:


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According to Lazarus (1975) What is the difference between positive and negative appraisals? How is appraisal both physiological and psychological? What did Lazarus and Folkman (1984) what factors can influence how we appraise a stressful situation? what is the difference between the two different types of coping that Folkman and Lazarus (1988) identified? Give the aims, procedures, findings and conclusions of Speisman et al. (1964) study of manipulation of emotional appraisal What was the IV and the DV in the study? What type of design was used? Identify and explain three ethical issues that are raised by Speisman et al. study Give two additional evaluative points that relate to Speisman et al.s study What were the aims, procedures and findings of Rubin et al.s (2000) study?