Emotion is a common phenomenon but not well understood. We have emotions; we just don’t understand them.
Emotion goes with autonomic arousal. When we sense danger (real or not), the hypothalamus and limbic system kick in, releasing cortisol, epinephrine and other agents to ready us for action. This is part of our fight-flight-freeze system.
Attack and escape behaviors and related to fear and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are an extension or over-activation of our normal processes.
Stress keeps us alert to damage but makes it difficult to sleep. Sleep apnea, for example, causes higher blood sugar and cortisol levels. The short lapses of breathing trigger our protective arousal system.
Pay particular attention to how the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work together.
By the end of this module, you should be able to:
- Compare and contrast the major theories of emotion.
- Explain how the amygdala responds quickly to emotional stimuli.
- Describe why emotions include cognitive and limbic system components.
- Describe how the amygdala and hippocampus impact emotional memories.
- 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA)
- adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
- bed nucleus of the stria terminalis
- behavioral medicine
- GABAa receptor
- general adaptation syndrome
- HPA axis
- immune system
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- startle reflex
- Neuroscience for Kids: Laughter (Links to an external site.)
- Neuroscience for Kids: Fear (Links to an external site.)
The experience of emotion improves our memories, our work and our relationships. They are both simple and complex.