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For example, ascending interoceptive signals bring sensory prediction errors from the internal milieu to the brain via lamina I and vagal afferent pathways, and they are anatomically positioned to be modulated by descending visceromotor predictions that control the internal milieu e. Fields, This suggests the hypothesis that concepts i. This provides new hypotheses about the chronification of pain see Barrett, that considers pain and emotion as two sides of the same coin, rather than separate phenomena that influence one another.

Emotions are constructions of the world, not reactions to it. This insight is a game changer for the science of emotion. It dissolves many of the debates that remained mired in philosophical confusion, and allows us to better understand the value of non-human animal models, without resorting to the perils of essentialism and anthropomorphism.

It provides a common framework for understanding mental, physical, and neurodegenerative disorders e.


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Ultimately, the theory of constructed emotion equips scientists with new conceptual tools to solve the age-old mysteries of how a human nervous system creates a human mind. Agranular : Cerebral cortex with the least developed laminar organization involving no definable layer IV, and no clear distinction between the neurons in layers II and III. Allostasis : Regulating the internal milieu by anticipating physiological needs and preparing to meet them before they arise. Concept : Traditionally, a category is a group of instances that are similar for some function or purpose; a concept is the mental representations of those category members.

In the theory of constructed emotion, a concept is a collection of embodied, whole brain representations that predicts what is about to happen in the sensory environment, what the best action is to deal with these impending events, and their consequences for allostasis.

Degeneracy : Degeneracy refers to the capacity for biologically dissimilar systems or processes to give rise to identical functions. Degeneracy is different from redundancy which is inefficient and to be avoided. Dysgranular : Cerebral cortex with a moderately developed laminar organization involving a rudimentary layer IV and better developed layers II and III.

They are thought to function as a high-capacity backbone for synchronizing neural activity, integrating information and segregating noise across the entire brain. Internal Milieu : An integrated sensory representation of the physiological state of the body. Laminar Organization : The architectural organization of neurons in a cortical column. Pattern Generators : Groups of neurons i.

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An action is a single movement but a behavior is an event. Pattern generators are in the hypothalamus and down in the brainstem near their effector muscles and organs Sterling and Laughlin, ; Swanson, Visceromotor : Internal movements involving autonomic, neuroendocrine, and immune systems. For example, Aristotle placed both thinking and feeling in organs of the body; Descartes kept emotions in the body and placed cognition in the pineal gland of the brain. Even primary sensory neurons are not coding for single sensory features but for associations between one feature like the presence or absence of a line with other sensory features; e.

V1 neurons have receptive fields that include auditory and sensorimotor changes e.

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Liang et al. Sometimes allostasis involves signaling the need for resources before the body runs out e. When the body is in need of glucose, saliva is pre-emptively secreted even before anything is ingested. Even just imaging food causes glucose secretion. In this regard, we humans have been able to expand our ecological niche and therefore our internal models with technology.

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Hodgkin and Huxley, , which creates a misleading picture of how the nervous system functions Marder, For a similar view, see Dewey, Nonetheless, the history of science is laced with the idea that the mind drives perception [e. There is accumulating evidence that prediction and prediction error signals oscillate at different frequencies within the brain e.

Arnal and Giraud, ; Bressler and Richter, ; Brodski et al. For your entire life, your brain is entombed in a dark, silent box i. It has to figure out the causes of sensory events outside your skull to guide action in the service of allostasis, but all it has access to their consequences in the form of sights, sounds, smells, touches, tastes and interoceptive sensations i. So, your brain is faced with a problem of reverse inference: any given sensation—a flash of light or a sound or an ache or cramp—can have many different causes.

In addition, the sensory information is dynamically changing, noisy, and ambiguous. Your brain solves this puzzle by using the only other source of information available to it—past experiences—to create simulations that predict incoming sensory events before their consequences arrive to the brain. In this way, your brain efficiently uses the statistical regularities from its past to anticipate future events that must be dealt with.

This distinction makes sense for natural kind categories where the boundaries exist independent of perceivers or when the instances of a category share physical similarities — some set of statistical regularities in their sensory aspects or perceptual features e. In many cases, however, the boundary between a category and its concept is blurred. For example, consider a category whose instances share a similar function, but do not share any physical features e.

These conceptual categories have also been called abstract or nominal categories. Biological categories are conceptual categories, as we learned in On the Origin of Species. The categories of social reality, such as flowers and weeds, or emotion categories, are conceptual because functions are imposed on physically disparate instances by virtual of collective agreement Barrett, Primary interoceptive cortex is relatively less developed than these regions, and therefore sends multimodal sensory predictions to these exteroceptive regions.

Agranular limbic cortices send, but do not receive prediction signals, because they have the least well-developed laminar structure of the entire cortical mantle.

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The locus coeruleus also receives ascending interoceptive and nociceptive prediction errors see Counts and Mufson, This is yet another way that allostasis is altered by modulating the gain or excitability of neurons that represent sensory and motor prediction errors. Salience regions also help accomplish multimodal integration [compare, e. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. Published online Oct Lisa Feldman Barrett 1, 2, 3.

Find articles by Lisa Feldman Barrett. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Corresponding author. Correspondence should be addressed to Lisa Feldman Barrett. E-mail: ude.

Published by Oxford University Press. For commercial re-use, please contact journals. This article has been corrected. See Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract The science of emotion has been using folk psychology categories derived from philosophy to search for the brain basis of emotion. Keywords: emotion, predictive coding, construction, interoception, categorization, concepts, affect. Open in a separate window. The biological background What is a brain? Table 1. Examples of neuroscience evidence that disconfirm the classical view of emotion. Observation Method Example Citations Different emotion categories cannot be specifically and consistently localized to distinct populations of neurons within a single region of the human brain.

Human neuroimaging: task-related data Vytal and Hamann, ; Lindquist et al. Human neuroimaging: intrinsic connectivity data Barrett and Satpute, ; Touroutoglou et al. Intracranial stimulation in humans Guillory and Bujarski, Lesions to the amygdala produce variable functional consequences. Monozygotic twins, whose basolateral nuclei of both amygdalae are calcified due to UWD, do not show equivalent deficits in experiencing and perceiving fear; patient BG has deficits similar to patient SM who has complete loss of both amygdalae due to UWD , whereas her sister, AM, is able to experience and perceive fear when BG cannot.

Other people with basolateral lesions from UWD show different problems in fear perception they are vigilant to rather than neglectful of posed fear faces. Patient SM can experience intense fear in the real world under certain circumstances, and her impairments in fear perception appear to be limited to experiments where she is asked to view stereotyped, fear poses and explicitly categorize them as fearful. There is ample evidence that she is able to perceive fear in various circumstances in real life see Box 1.

Behavioral observations in humans with amygdala lesions Bechara et al. Some have argued that these circuits represent distinct pathways from the amygdala to the periaqueductal gray through the hypothalamus to control different situation-specific fear behaviors, but others find that there are many circuits to one behavior mappings.

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Others find one circuit to many behavior mappings. Still others find that the amygdala, or specific parts e. Also, cortical regions e. One thing is certain: scientists routinely engage in mental inference and refer to circuits as controlling different types of fear when in fact they are studying context-dependent behaviors that may not bear a one-to-one correspondence to fear.