Emotions are enmeshed in the neural networks of reason.
To me, body and mind are different aspects of specific biological processes.
We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.
Rather than being a luxury, emotions are a very intelligent way of driving an organism toward certain outcomes.
There is no such thing as a disembodied mind. The mind is implanted in the brain, and the brain is implanted in the body.
The problem that we, as living organisms, face - and not we only, humans, but any living organism faces - is the management of life.
I continue to be fascinated by the fact that feelings are not just the shady side of reason but that they help us to reach decisions as well.
I cannot listen to Beethoven or Mahler or Chopin or Bach when I write because those composers require you stop what you are doing and listen.
Interestingly enough, not all feelings result from the body's reaction to external stimuli. Sometimes changes are purely simulated in the brain maps.
More may have been learned about the brain and the mind in the 1990s - the so-called decade of the brain - than during the entire previous history of psychology and neuroscience.
Having a self, even a simple self, allows you to look into the world and put a mark over what is more important and less important. It's a way of classifying the world in terms of your own needs.
Consciousness, much like our feelings, is based on a representation of the body and how it changes when reacting to certain stimuli. Self-image would be unthinkable without this representation.
Some of us, for better or worse, develop very stable, consistent, and largely predictable machineries of self. But in others, the self machinery is more flexible and more open to unexpected turns.
Of necessity, the autobiographical self is not just about one individual but about all the others that an individual interacts with. Of necessity, it incorporates the culture in which the interactions took place.
I got interested in the emotions after studying patients who had lost the ability to emote and feel under certain circumstances. Many of those patients also had major impairments in their ability to make decisions.
Emotion consists of a very well orchestrated set of alterations in the body that has, as a general purpose, making life more survivable by taking care of a danger, of taking care of an opportunity, either/or, or something in between.
If I use the word consciousness, in our lab, in our institute, what we mean is the special quality of mind, the special features that exist in the mind, that permit us to know, for example, that we, ourselves, exist, and that things exist around us.
When we talk about emotion, we really talk about a collection of behaviors that are produced by the brain. You can look at a person in the throes of an emotion and observe changes in the face, in the body posture, in the coloration of the skin and so on.
You can be highly concentrated on a person, on a problem, and be so good at excluding all other material that that becomes not just the focus of your experience, but practically the sole content of your experience, everything else falling by the wayside.
When you deal with something like compassion for physical pain, which we know is very, very old in evolution - we can find evidence for it in nonhuman species - the brain processes it at a faster speed. Compassion for mental pain took many seconds longer.
Narratives are not fixed. We change our narratives for ourselves and we change them not necessarily deliberately. In other words, some people do, some people will constantly reconstruct their biography for external purposes, it's a very interesting political ploy.
All of that is constantly operating when you not only learn, but when you recall. But as you recall in a different light, the weights with which something is more probably going to be or not recalled on the next instance, are going to be changed. So you're constantly changing the way, for instance, synapses are going to fire very easily or not so easily.
The mechanism of primary emotions does not describe the full range of emotional behaviors. They are, to be sure, the basic mechanism. However, I believe that in terms of an individual's development they are followed by mechanisms of secondary emotions, which occur once we begin experiencing feelings and forming systematic connections between categories of objects and situations, on the one hand, and primary emotions, on the other.