Abstract # 31:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 01:30 PM-02:30 PM: Session 4 (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Featured Speaker


ANCESTRAL MEMORIES: THE AFFECTIVE SIDE OF BASIC BRAIN EMOTIONAL SYSTEMS WITH A FOCUS ON SEPARATION DISTRESS (SADNESS) AND PLAYFULNESS (SOCIAL JOY)

J. Panksepp
Washington State University, Dept. of VCAPP (Veterinary Comparative Anatomy, Physiology and Anatomy), Pullman, WA 99164, USA
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     A variety of genetically based basic emotional systems in the brain allow newborn mammals to begin navigating the complexities of the world and to learn about the values and contingencies of the environment. Some of these systems have been identified and characterized. The fundamental emotional systems can now be defined by the behavioral and psychobiological characteristics of the underlying circuitries--characteristics that help coordinate behavioral, physiological and psychological aspects of emotionality, including the valenced affective feeling states that provide fundamental values for the guidance of behavior. Converging lines of evidence suggest that emotional feelings emerge from the interaction of these systems with a fundamental process of neuro-visceral self-representation that is concentrated in the medial strata of the brain (including anterior-cingulate, insular and frontal cortices which are richly connected to various median diencephalic and mesencephalic structures), all of which control "resting states" and self-representation as monitored with fMRI. Our working hypothesis is that emotional motor-action coordinates may generate a variety of subjectively experienced feeling states that help energize and guide cognitive activities. In short, there are no mind-brain dichotomies in nature: Feelings emerge from specific types of subcortical neural system, providing a modern conceptualization of how the brain mediates raw (primary-process) emotionality. Affective feelings provide a solid neurological foundation for higher levels of consciousness as well as novel endophenotypic concepts for a future biological psychiatry.