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Neurocase. 2009 Jun;15(3):173-81. doi: 10.1080/13554790902796787.

The emotional brain: combining insights from patients and basic science.

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Department of Neurology, University of California, Memory and Aging Center, 350 Parnassus Ave., Suite 905, Box 1207, San Francisco, CA 94143-1207, USA.


Emotional dysfunction occurs commonly in neurological disease, although the study of this phenomenon has been relatively neglected. In this introduction to the special issue of Neurocase, we review some key processes underlying normal emotional function and we link these processes to their putative neuroanatomical substrates. Emotions are multimodal phenomena involving the coordinated activation of thoughts, somatic musculature, and the autonomic system in response to shifting environmental demands. Key facets of emotional function include appraisal, reactivity, regulation, emotional understanding, and empathy. These processes are carried out via interactions between the frontal and temporal lobes and insula, and subcortical structures including the amygdala, basal ganglia, hypothalamus and brainstem. A thorough understanding of emotional dysfunction in neurological disease will require a sophisticated approach to studying emotion, which takes into account these various processes and links them to neuroanatomical changes.

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