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Lecture 11: Emotions and stress

by: Rachael Couch

Lecture 11: Emotions and stress NSC 3361

Marketplace > University of Texas at Dallas > Neuroscience > NSC 3361 > Lecture 11 Emotions and stress
Rachael Couch
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Organized word doc off all class notes and power point slides
Behavioral Neuroscience
Van S Miller
Class Notes
behavioral neuro, nsc, Miller, van miller, UTD
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Rachael Couch on Tuesday February 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to NSC 3361 at University of Texas at Dallas taught by Van S Miller in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 44 views. For similar materials see Behavioral Neuroscience in Neuroscience at University of Texas at Dallas.


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Date Created: 02/16/16
Lecture 11: Emotions Neural basis of emotions ­ Not completely understood ­ Multiple areas of brain act together in any given emotion ­ Some areas, though, are of prime importance ­ fMRI studies have been key Model of emotion ­ 2 axes/dimensions of emotion o 1) “X axis” avoidance versus approach behavior  Does the behavior make the individual go towards or away from the  stimulus o 2) “Y axis” Level of arousal (intensity of emotion)  o Ex: on the moderate avoidance site, with increasing arousal  dislike  contempt  hatred  ­ Emotion is an increase or decrease in physiological activity accompanied by feelings  characteristic of the emotion ­ Stimulus  cognitive appraisal  effects o Ex: Stimulus­ seeing a man with a knife   cognitive appraisal ­ your brain registers it as “danger”   effects – autonomic nervous system (ANS) reacts (heart rate, breathing), behavior changes (run), facial expression changes, emotional feelings  change (fear)  ­ Feedback ­ the behavioral, ANS effects, and facial expression feed the emotional feelings which then feeds cognitive appraisal  Emotions and culture ­ Only 8 emotions but there are variations in intensities of them  o Emotions are “pan­cultural” which suggests that there are 8 biological emotions  How we deal with these emotions is cultural  ­ Each emotion has a characteristic facial expression ­ Across cultures:  o An elicitor (stimulus) causes an emotion (pan­cultural) o This is mediated by culture­specific display rules which lead to an end result o Ex:   Biological ­ joke stimulates the limbic system to laugh (happiness)   Cultural – you’re in church so the frontal cortex suppresses the laugh  Facial expressions ­ Impairment limits social interaction o Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, facial nerve paralysis o Moebius syndrome ­ genetic condition that causes facial paralysis   Girl cannot smile, but chin is slightly tilted up, her mother can tell she’s  happy but other children probably cannot o Bell’s palsy   Face is half paralyzed (asymmetric); cannot tell her emotion ­ Facial feedback o The brain monitors facial expression to know how to feel  o Posed expressions (“fake smile”) produce the intended emotion, and the  associated physiological arousal; so we can create our own emotion o Changing motoric activity alters behavior and thinking   “Self­delusion goes a long way in life” o Posed expressions affect how we interpret our environment  A stimulus is more painful when making a sad face  Cartoons are rated as funnier during induced smiling  Women given Botox are less able to frown and have less negative mood  When they are told to imitate an angry expression they have less  amygdala activity – can’t generate anger because they can’t frown  Brain areas Brainstem (“power”) ­ Controls the intensity of the emotion ­ Locus coeruleus – site of norepinephrine synthesis o Emotional arousal, depression, stress; moderate/contented pleasure ­ VTA, substantia nigra o Dopamine ­ pleasure, exhilaration Orbitofrontal cortex (“controller”) ­ = The bottom part of the frontal lobe/cortex; right on top of the eyes ­ = prefrontal/frontal lobe  ­ Inhibits raw emotion from the amygdala ­ Increased activation from increased “shock value” of material  o Cursing = violation of social norm = funny  ­ Laughter activates the orbitofrontal cortex Prefrontal (orbitofrontal) cortex ­ Final destination for much of the brain’s information about emotion before action is taken ­ Judges our behavior and its consequences o Ex: You want to laugh but you’re in church so your prefrontal cortex suppresses it – judges the appropriateness of your behavior  ­ Damaged  understand moral and social rules but can’t apply the rules in their own lives ­ Damage early in life  never learn these rules and are motivated only to avoid  punishment ­ Abnormalities in PFC are associated with aggression, depression, and schizophrenia ­ Limbic system (“integrator”) ­ Takes information from different sources (visual, environmental, ANS reactions) and  decides   ­ Ex: man with knife is scary in a dark alley but not in an acting class o “Same stimulus different appraisal”  because of a different judgement made by  the limbic system  ­ Hypothalamus ­ ANS reactions (heart rate, pupils, etc.) ­ Amygdala – fear (and aggression – the related behavior o Participates in memory formation, especially emotional ones and recognition of  fear in other people   In fMRI, posed fearful expression  amygdala activation o People with amygdala damage are unusually trusting o Anxiety­reducing drugs act on receptors in the amygdala ­ Hippocampus­ memory (emotional, spatial) o Memory is important in emotion because experience determines the severity of  the situation  Ex: The man with the knife is someone you know who told you that if he  saw you again he’d kill you ­ Cingulate gyrus (= anterior cingulate cortex/empathetic nervous system)  o Pain processing (the pain sensation and the emotion generated from that pain)  o Combines emotional, attentional, and body information in a conscious emotional  experience o Empathy   Sensory cortex activated when being touched physically and when  watching a movie of someone being touched Other emotions Pleasure/happiness ­ Related to craving and addiction ­ Medial forebrain bundle – tract rises from midbrain through the hypothalamus; contacts the locus coeruleus, VTA, and nucleus accumbens to the brain  o Contains many sites for self­stimulation Surprises ­ Involves the nucleus accumbens (NAC) ­ addiction ­ Unexpected surprises  more activation of nucleus accumbens than expected reward Klüver–Bucy syndrome ­ Removal of temporal lobes in monkeys  socially unacceptable behavior o Failure to recognize other’s emotions  ­ Studies showed that the amygdala, in the temporal lobe, is a key structure in fear ­ Stimulus acts on sensory organs (eyes) that activate the thalamus, sensory cortex, and  hippocampus o Signal goes into amygdala   emotional behavior, hormonal response and  hypothalamus to stimulate autonomic responses o The amygdala is the link between the hippocampus and emotional behavior   (hypothalamus)  Disgust (moral disgust) and guilt (inward disgust) activate the insula  Romantic love ­ Students in new love were scanned while looking at a photo of their beloved ­ Right caudate (connected to nucleus accumbens), ventral tegmental area  (involved in  drug craving) became very active  ­ Love or lust? – studied older people; couples who have been together for 50 years,etc.  o Discovered that these “lust” areas do not light up ­ Septal stimulation produces pleasure, accompanied by sexual fantasies and arousal o Septal nucleus (limbic system) o Involved in all fantasies (related to empathy) Two hemispheres ­ Left side of the face (controlled by right hemisphere) is more expressive than the right o  right brain is more emotional ­ Hemispheres differ in comprehending vocal messages o Right hemisphere identifies tone   Ex: processes sarcasm o Left hemisphere processes the words (meaning of the message) ­ Left frontal lobe activation o Behavioral approach o Emotions regulated by this area are anger and joy o More active during positive emotions o Compassion meditation affects left frontal lobe  o Damage to the left hemisphere  anxiety and sadness ­ Right frontal lobe activation o Behavioral withdrawal o Emotions regulated are fear, sadness o More active during negative emotions o Right­hemisphere damage – patients more likely to be unbothered or euphoric,  even if their arm or leg is paralyzed Aggression ­ Bullies find sadism rewarding/addictive ­ In aggressive teens, areas of brain linked with feeling reward (amygdala and striatum)  become active when they watch pain inflicted on others  o Striatum = nucleus accumbens  Stress ­ Stress response activates the sympathetic nervous system, largely under hypothalamic  control ­ Resulting increases in heart rate, blood flow, and respiration rate help the person deal  with the situation ­ Activates many bodily responses ­ Adrenal cortex (adrenal glands) secretes cortisol  o Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases blood glucose and breaks down protein ­ Adrenal medulla releases epinephrine and norepinephrine ­ Autonomic activation during a stressful situation  o  high cortisol, low testosterone, and high epinephrine  o Before the stressful situation (they’re afraid) levels are high  o Rapidly rise and rapidly adapt after a situation ­ Hormonal response o Increased epinephrine during a crowded train ride  o Surge in ep and norep during exam – goes down after Acute Stress ­ Hypothalamus and pituitary stimulate adrenals to release:  o Epinephrine and norepinephrine  Increase output from the heart and free glucose o Cortisol ­ provides sustained release of energy to cope ­ Beneficial  o Immune system is boosted  o Brain build new neurons – prepares you to defend yourself  ­ Harmful­ can lead to heart attacks  Chronic stress ­ Interferes with memory, appetite, sexual desire and performance, energy, and mood ­ Compromises the immune system o Hormones released (noradrenaline) suppress the immune system ­ PTSD ­ develops in response to an exceptionally stressful (catastrophic) event  o Usually onset a few days after event  o Involves limbic system (amygdala­ fear) o Symptoms include re­experiencing (flashbacks, nightmares), avoiding people or  situations associated with event, hyperarousal symptoms (panic, increased heart  rate) o After 7 years, 40% of those diagnosed still have it o Many recover without treatment  o Treatments  Behavioural desensitization – repeatedly exposing to triggers; people often stop going because treatment is stressful   Propranolol – may help block memory of event   Ecstasy – similar to SSRI but much more potent   Treatment eliminates about 20% Brain changes and damage ­ Damage (reduced volume) in the frontal cortex and hippocampus (temporal lobe) o Frontal cortex is involved in executive function   Damage  inappropriate behavior (abuse, etc.)   Cycle of abuse – abuse causes damage, makes one more likely to abuse  their child which causes frontal cortex damage, etc. ­ Reduced cortical tissue ­ Amygdala enlarges at first and then later atrophies  ­ Damage due to stress is caused by cortisol ­ perhaps increased receptor sensitivity Social/personality influences have a physiological basis ­ Introverts (social anxiety) with HIV have higher virus titers than extroverts with HIV o Norepinephrine (NE) levels are higher in introverts; NE blocks immune system ­ Subjects who had higher activity in the left hemisphere (associated with positive  emotions) had a better response to the flu shot Biological origins of aggression ­ Aggression – behavior that is intended to harm; not always physical  ­ 2 types of aggression (reactive and proactive) involve different brain areas  ­ Reactive aggression is impulsive, provoked, emotional, and unplanned o Ex: road rage, murderers o Lower activity in prefrontal cortex o Less gray matter in prefrontal cortex associated with antisocial personality  disorder o Behave recklessly, overreact to provocation, and are sexually promiscuous ­ Proactive aggression is premeditated, unprovoked, emotionless o Ex: Boston bombers, planned killings o Associated with psychopathy  Sociopaths are incapable of remorse – they may commit very violent acts o Less autonomic response to stress  o Impaired amygdala function ­ Hormones o Testosterone levels are higher in men convicted of violent crimes, as well as in  aggressive women prisoners   Women have hormones that have androgen­like effects o Aggression and competition (winning) can increase testosterone o Testosterone rise also increases dopamine – aggression/winning can be addictive ­ Brain areas o Murderers have higher activity of the amygdala and hypothalamus o Removing the amygdala reduces aggression in 33­100% of patients o Tumors in amygdala, hypothalamus or septal area can cause aggression o Seizure activity in the amygdala increases aggression Case studies Case: Bob ­ Head trauma – chronic traumatic encephalopathy  ­ Injured orbitofrontal cortex  ­ Doesn’t feel emotion, can’t sense wife’s emotions anymore ­ Brain scan shows white spots at the temporal lobes  Case: Klüver–Bucy syndrome ­ 6­year­old boy was hospitalized because of seizures.  ­ First 3 days ­ fatigue, incoherent speech, hallucinations, verbal agnosia (couldn’t  understand language), and weird behaviors ­ One month later ­ lost speech and developed visual agnosia, and memory deficits ­ His aggression increased and he became hyper oral (put everything in his month like a 6  month old would do( ­ Motoric activity was unstable – either would be bouncing off the wall or doing nothing at all Case: aggression ­ 13 y/o old boy made multiple suicide attempts and attempted violent acts against others ­ He was placed in restraints up to 6 hours per day ­ Cut out part of his amygdala 


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