Stephanie Denis (@stephanie_taylor) - Profile Photo

@stephanie_taylor

🌻

Self Improvement

The brain reconstructs experiences

  • For example, a churning stomach and flushed face can feel like you're in love in a romantic setting but will be interpreted as 'feeling ill' if you are in bed with a thermometer in your mouth.
  • A stomach ache might signal a gut infection, or it might feel like homesickness if you are away from your family.
  • A rushing heartbeat could be interpreted as excitement when you're on a rollercoaster, acute anxiety if you're giving a speech, or simply that you've drunk too much coffee.

MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

States like hunger, fatigue, or illness produce the same signals as emotions like anger, anxiety, or sadness. This shows the importance of looking after your body as a way to stabilise your mood.

  • A healthy diet and regular exercise can regulate your mood.
  • Mindfulness meditation can encourage you to observe and deconstruct your bodily signals.
  • A good emotion vocabulary is useful. Instead of describing yourself as 'happy', you may discern if you are 'blissful' or 'inspired'. Reading or watching films can increase your emotion vocabulary.

Charles Darwin popularized the theory of emotional fingerprints - that each emotion creates a specific combination of facial expression, body language, and other physiological cues such as a heart rate.

But recently detailed analyses suggest there is no such thing. Each emotion is represented by a whole range of reactions. The way we interpret our body's signals, such as excited or anxious, depends entirely on the context of the situation and can be easily framed by our expectations.

You can take steps now to influence your future emotional experiences.

Knowing your real emotion can provide a deeper understanding of the situation you are in, such as reframing your unhappiness, so it no longer feels so all-consuming. You may also reconsider the source of your discomfort. Eventually, you may be able to categorise a situation with precision.

We learn interpretations from others. Your familiar emotion concepts come from your particular social context - your parents, friends, TV, and books, and your own past life experiences.

Other cultures will connect different kinds of meaning from the same sensory input. Utka Eskimos appear to have no clearly defined concept of anger, and Tahitians seem not to share our concept of sadness.

Our feelings can surprise us

Although we think that we know how we feel, the sensations of anger, anxiety, hunger, or illness are more alike than we realize.

We may sometimes misinterpret those signals with grave consequences. But there are some practical ways to gain control of our feelings.

Deepstash helps you become inspired, wiser and productive, through bite-sized ideas from the best articles, books and videos out there.

RELATED IDEAS

4

IDEAS

Simulation: The Way The Brain Really Works

Every moment that we are alive, our brain utilizes concepts to simulate the surrounding environment, practically creating ‘our’ world.

At any given moment, our brain tries to reconstruct, guess or compute what’s happening in the world using simulation. There is a lot of noisy, ambiguous information from our senses, which our brain uses to construct a simulation, and derive meaning from a fraction of the information(which seems relevant) while discarding the rest.

  • Simulation is the standard, default mode for all brain activity.
  • Discovered in the 1990s, simulation is what psychologists and neuroscientists mistook as ‘reactions’ to what we see, hear, touch, smell or taste.
  • We automatically use simulation for thinking, understanding language, feeling empathy, remembrance, imagination, dreams and the ability to perceive.

Using the ability to simulate the brain gathers outside information and integrates it with what it already knows and what is associated with it.

Then it combines these signals and computes in various ways to perceive and guide the corresponding action.

Just like our senses, our body has signals like breathing, heartbeat, metabolism and other internal movements that may be considered a source of sensory input for the brain. This, when mixed with our original sensory inputs like touch, sight and hearing, can create emotions.

Example: a stomachache can be seen as meaning something else just with the accompanying signal being good (a lover coming to see you) or bad (sniffing something horrible).

What are emotions?

An emotion is a complex pyschological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.

In addition to trying to define what emotions are, researchers have also tried to identify and classify the different types of emotions. The descriptions and insights have changed over time

Plutchik proposed eight primary emotional dimensions: happiness vs. sadness, anger vs. fear, trust vs. disgust, and surprise vs. anticipation. These emotions can then be combined to create others (such as happiness + anticipation = excitement).

Key elements of emotions

In order to better understand what emotions are. let's focus on their three key elements known as:

  • The subjective experience
  • The physiological response
  • The behavioral response.


The subjective experience

While experts believe that there are a number of basic universal emotions that are experienced by people all over the world regardless of background or culture, researchers also believe that experiencing emotion can be highly subjective

Consider anger, for example. Is all anger the same? Your own experience might range from mild annoyance to blinding rage.

While we have broad labels for emotions such as "angry," "sad," or "happy," your own experience of these emotions may be much more multi-dimensional, hence subjective.

We also don't always experience pure forms of emotion. Mixed emotions over different events or situations in our lives are common.

When faced with a new job, you might feel both excited and nervous. Getting married or having a child might be marked by a wide variety of emotions ranging from joy to anxiety.

These emotions might occur simultaneously, or you might feel them one after another.

The psychological response

If you've ever felt you stomach lucht from anxiety or your heart paplate with fear, the you realize that emotions also cause strong pyschological reactions.

We feel emotions and experience physiological reactions simultaneously.

Many of the physiological responses you experience during an emotion, such as sweaty palms or a racing heartbeat, are regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, a branch of the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary body responses, such as blood flow and digestion.

While early studies of the physiology of emotion tended to focus on these autonomic responses, more recent research has targeted the brain's role in emotions.



Amygdala Research

Brain scans have shown that the amygdala, part of the limbic system, plays an important role in emotion and fear in particular.

The amygdala itself is a tine, almond-shaped structure that has been linked to motivational states such as hunger and thirst as well was memory and emotion.

Researchers have used brain imaging to show that when people are shown threatening images, the amygdala becomes activated. Damage to the amygdala has also been shown to impair the fear response.

The behavioral response

The final component is perhaps one that you are most familiar with—the actual expression of emotion. We spend a significant amount of time interpreting the emotional expressions of the people around us. our ability to accurately understand these expressions is tied to what psychologists call emotional intelligence, and these expressions play a major part in our overal body language.

Research suggests that many expressions are universal, such as a smile to indicate happiness or a frown to indicate sadness. Sociocultural norms also play a role in how we express and interpret emotions.

In Japan, for example, people tend to mask displays of fear or disgust when an authority figure is present. Similarly, Western cultures like the United States are more likely to express negative emotions both alone and in the presence of others, while eastern cultures like Japan are more likely to do so while alone.

Emotions vs. Moods

In everyday language, people often use the terms "emotions" and "moods", but psychologists actually make distinctions between the two. 

How do they differ?

An emotion is normally quite short-lived, but intense. Emotions are also likely to have a definite and identifiable cause.

For example, after disagreeing with a friend over politics, you might feel angry for a short period of time. 

A mood, on the other hand, is usually much milder than an emotion, but longer-lasting.

In many cases, it can be difficult to identify the specific cause of a mood. For example, you might find yourself feeling gloomy for several days without any clear, identifiable reason.

Basic Emotions

There are many different types of emotions that have an influence on how we live and interact with others. 

The choices we make, the actions we take, and the perceptions we have are all influenced by the emotions we are experiencing at any given moment.

During the 1970's, pyschologist Paul Eckman identified six bacis emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures.


Combined emotions

Emotions can be combined to form different feelings, much like colors can be mixed to create other shades.

The more basic emotions act something like building blocks. More complex, sometimes mixed emotions, are blendings of these more basic ones. For example, basic emotions such as joy and trust can be combined to create love.

Happiness

Happiness tends to be the one emotion that everyone strives for the most. Happiness is often defined as a pleasent emotional state that is characterized by feelings of contentment: joy, gratification, statisfaction, and well being.

This type of emotion is sometimes expressed through:

  • Facial expressions: such as smiling
  • body language: such as a relaxed stance
  • tone of voice: an upbeat, pleasent way of speaking

While happiness is considered one the basic emotions the things we think will create happiness tend to be heavily influenced by culture.

Sadness

Sadness is another type of emotion often defined as a transient emotional state characterized by feelings of: dissapointment, grief, hopelesness, disintresst, and dampened mood.

Like other emotions sadness is something that we all experience from time to time, in some cases, people can experience prolonged and severe periods of sadness that can turn into depression.

Sadness can be expressed in a number of ways:

  • Crying
  • Dampened mood
  • Lethargy
  • Quietness
  • Withdrawal from others


Fear

Fear is a powerfull emotion that can also play an important role in survival. When you face some sort of danger and experience fear, you go through what is known as the fight or flight response.

This response helps ensure that you are prepared to effectively deal with threats in your environment. Expressions of this type of emotion can include:

  • Facial expressions: such as widening the eyes and pulling back the chin
  • Body language: attempts to hide or flea from the threat
  • Physiological reactions: such as rapid breathing and heartbeat


Disgust

Disgust is another of the original six basic emotions. Disgust can be displayed in a nuber of ways including:

  • Body language: turning away from the object of disgust
  • Physical reactions: such as vomiting or retching
  • Facial expressions: such as wrinkling the nose and curling the upper lip

This sense of revulsion can originate from a number of things, including an unpleasant taste, sight, or smell. This may be the body's way of avoiding things that may carry transmittable diseases.

Anger

Anger can be a particularly powerful emotion characterized by feelings of hostility, agitation, frustration, and antagonism towards others. Like fear, anger can play a part in your body's fight or flight response.

Anger is often displayed through:

  • Facial expressions: such as frowning or glaring
  • Body language: such as taking a strong stance or turning away
  • Tone of voice: such as speaking gruffly or yelling
  • Physiological responses: such as sweating or turning red
  • Aggressive behaviors: such as hitting, kicking, or throwing objects

While anger is often thought of as a negative emotion, it can sometimes be a good thing. It can be constructive in helping clarify your needs in a relationship, and it can also motivate you to take action and find solutions to things that are bothering you.

Anger can become a problem, however, when it is excessive or expressed in ways that are unhealthy, dangerous, or harmful to others. Uncontrolled anger can quickly turn to aggression, abuse, or violence.

this emotion can have both mental en physical consequences.

Suprise

Suprise is another one of the six basic types of human emotions. suprise is usually quite brief and unexpected. This type of emotion can be positive, negative, or neutral. suprize is often characterized by:

  • Facial expressions: such as raising the brows, widening the eyes, and opening the mouth
  • Physical responses: such as jumping back
  • Verbal reactions: such as yelling, screaming, or gasping

Surprise is another type of emotion that can trigger the fight or flight response.

The six basic emotions are just an portion of the many different types of emotions that people are capable of expriencing.

Here are some other emotions:

  • Amusement
  • Contempt
  • Contentment
  • Embarrassment
  • Excitement
  • Guilt
  • Pride in achievement
  • Relief
  • Satisfaction
  • Shame


© Brainstash, Inc

AboutCuratorsJobsPress KitTopicsTerms of ServicePrivacy PolicySitemap