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Psychol Rev. 1992 Jul;99(3):554-60.

A critical role for "affective neuroscience" in resolving what is basic about basic emotions.

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Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Ohio 43403.


Ortony and Turner (1990) asked "What's Basic About Basic Emotions," and they concluded "very little." They proceeded to advocate a "componential" or "mosaic" view of how emotional systems should be analyzed. Their thesis was flawed by their failure to consider the available neurobehavioral data. Genetically dictated brain systems that mediate affective-emotional processes do exist, even though there are bound to be semantic ambiguities in how we speak about these systems. This commentary summarizes key lines of evidence for coherently operating emotional systems in the brain and advocates the position that the issue of basic emotions can no longer be credibly discussed without adequate consideration of the relevant brain research in the area. The type of conceptual, logical analysis pursued by Ortony and Turner, in the absence of a thorough analysis of the available neurological data, is not an adequate basis for resolving what is basic about basic emotions.

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