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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2007 Sep;2(3):281-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2007.00045.x.

Neurologizing the Psychology of Affects: How Appraisal-Based Constructivism and Basic Emotion Theory Can Coexist.

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Department of Veterinary Comparative Anatomy, Physiology, & Pharmacology, Washington State University


Abundant neurobehavioral data, not discussed by Lisa Feldman Barrett (2006), support the existence of a variety of core emotional operating systems in ancient subneocortical regions of the brain (Panksepp, 1998a, 2005a). Such brain systems are the primary-process ancestral birthrights of all mammals. There may be as many genetically and neurochemically coded subcortical affect systems in emotionally rich medial regions of the brain as there are "natural" emotional action systems in the brain. When emotional primes are aroused directly, as with local electrical or chemical stimulation, the affective changes sustain conditioned place preferences and place aversions, which are the premier secondary-process indices of affective states in animals. Humans are not immune to such brain manipulations; they typically exhibit strong emotional feelings. Human emotion researchers should not ignore these systems and simply look at the complex and highly variable culturally molded manifestations of emotions in humans if they wish to determine what kinds of "natural" emotional processes exist within all mammalian brain. Basic emotion science has generated workable epistemological strategies for under-standing the primal sources of human emotional feelings by detailed study of emotional circuits in our fellow animals.

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