Friday, November 17, 2006


Emotion influences learning, memory - and evolution

From the Daily Princetonian*: Emotion shapes nearly every aspect of human activity - from learning to memory to decision-making - and even influences evolution, University of Southern California neuroscience professor Antonio Damasio (homepage) said in a lecture in McCosh 50 Thursday night.

'Emotion, whichever way you look at it ... is involved in homeostasis,' he said, and 'the business of running our life.'

Damasio's talk focused on the processes involved in triggering and experiencing emotions and feelings.

Though Sigmund Freud and William James investigated the science of emotion more than 100 years ago, such research had largely been abandoned by the turn of the 20th century, he said.

In the past 10 years, however, significant progress has been made in identifying what Damasio termed the 'body loop' theory of emotion production.

Continued at "Emotion influences learning,memory - and evolution"

Opening paragraph of Damasio's 2001 Nature paper "Fundamental feelings":

The groundwork for the science of emotion was laid down most auspiciously over a century ago, but neuroscience has given the problem a resolute cold shoulder until recently. By the time that Charles Darwin had remarked on the continuity of emotional phenomena from non-human species to humans; William James had proposed an insightful mechanism for its production; Sigmund Freud had noted the central role of emotions in psychopathological states; and Charles Sherrington had begun the physiological investigation of the neural circuits involved in emotion, one might have expected neuroscience to be poised for an all-out attack on the problem. It is not usually appreciated that the probable cause of the neglect of the topic was the improper distinction between the concepts of emotion and feelings.

Featured Book: "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain" (Amazon UK | US)

Books on 'Social and Emotional Intelligence' from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

See "Daniel Goleman's 'Social Intelligence': Is it More Useful than IQ? (Audio)"

*The Daily Princetonian, nicknamed the 'Prince,' was the second college newspaper in America to publish daily. The paper, founded in 1876 as a biweekly publication named The Princetonian, became The Daily Princetonian in 1892 when it became a daily newspaper.

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