Skip to main content

tv   How Emotions are Made  CSPAN  June 25, 2017 3:50pm-5:01pm EDT

3:50 pm
jibing just finished up "devil in the grove" a book about the life of thurgood marshall before he was anyone's judge but was lit getting cases in the the south at tremendous risk to himself but basically fighting for justice. >> which there is a daniels book i want to read. it's bring out the best in people. and i think every once in a while it's like -- you know, to get a new perspective on how you lead a team. i always say you lead people and now manage assets. >> hampton size book, kingdom of ice, which harry reid recommended and imjust wrapping up a trick novel called "all the light we cannot see." the nave. >> we want to hear from you. send us your summer reading list
3:51 pm
via text or video or post it to our facebook page. facebook.com/book, on twitter,@book tv-0 e-mail us@book tv@chan c-span.org. lisa felledman barrett is here in celebration of her book "how emotions are made: the secret life of the brain." she is university distinguished prefer of psychology at northeastern university with a appointments at harvard medical school and massachusetts general hospital in psychiatry and radiology. she received a national institutes of health directors pioneer award for heir groundbreaking research on emotion in the brain. she is an elected member of the royal society of canada. here's a sampling of the praise.
3:52 pm
in review library journal says barrett presents a new neuroscene tick explanation of why people are more swayed by feeling than facts. she offers intuitive theory that goes against in the popular understanding and that of traditional research. emotions don't arise, rather, we construct them on the fly. furthermore, emotions are neither universal nor located in specific brain regions. they very by culture and real from dynamic neuronal networks. scientific american says talk about freshness of ideas. and "wall street journal" says it's fascinating. and one says their selfie of the brain is brilliant. help me welcome lisa feldman barrett. [applause] >> thank you very much.
3:53 pm
thank you so much. it's -- thank you for the lovely introduction. it's very special for me to be here to talk to you about the book this evening because this is actually our home book store. we live in newton and have been coming to news tonville books since it was in newtonville. and then friends and family here as well, and i'd like to welcome the rest of you as well. what i'm going to do is read a couple of selections from the book, and then we'll open it up to questions. so i'm going to start with a passage i wrote about a birthday party that i threw for my daughter when she was 12 years old. we threw the birthday party with the theme of gross food. made pizza that was doctored to look as itself was green and moldy. so it had fuzzy cheese. i made vomit jello. if you want the recipe, let me
3:54 pm
know. and it actually dish used peach jello and then put in bits and pieces of chopped up -- little chopped up pieces of vegetable. served apple juice in medicine urine sample cups. the best part of the party was the game that we had after lunch. took baby food, mashed carrots, mashed beef, thinks like that, and i smeared itself artfully on tigers to look like pooh and then the kids has to take each diner and hold it up to their nose and take a good, deep whiff, and identified the food by its smell. even though these kids knew that it was baby food, many of them had a full body gag when they went to smell the tigers. this was exuberant, joyful disgust that we had cultivated in these kids, and this party actually holds the key to understanding how emotions are
3:55 pm
made. the science of emotion is filled with unintuitive details, very, very counterintuitive. each day we experience the delight of happiness, the dread of fear, the burn of anger, these days for some of us the burn of anger is a very common emotion -- and we're surrounded be people who are caught up the throes of their own emotions. these experience as compelling as they are don't actually reveal what is going on inside your brian and body -- your brain and body. this reason for this is that the human brain is a master of deception. it creates experiences and directs actions with a magician's skill, never revealing how and the whole time the brain is giving us a fulls sense of confidence that its products, our experiences -- these products reveal its inner workings.
3:56 pm
emotions seem distinct and feel built-in because that is really how we experience emotions. so, we assume that joy and sadness and fear anding a gary and so on have separate causes inside of us because of the way that we experience emotions. as if it's happening to us. so when you have a (like ours it's easy to come up with the wrong theory of emotions because wore just a bunch of brains figuring out how brains work. so, what i'd like to do now is give you -- i guess start at first principles. let's look around the room. when you look around the room, you see me, you see bookshelves, you see each other. to us it seems as if the visual information from the world just enters the retina of your eye
3:57 pm
and makes its way to your brain so you see stuff all around you. but that is to go my not what is happening. and i'm to demonstrate this i'd like to invite my lovely assistant up, and this is -- show you an image. so, who here sees a white square in the middle of this image? right. but there actually is no white square on that page. so, what is your brain doing to conjure an image of a square where no square exists. there's just open space. well, this is something that we talk about in the book. what is happening -- the become explains what is happening in your brain to create the perception of a square where there is none, and it also explains what this has to do with how the brain makes emotion.
3:58 pm
thank you, my lovely assistant. your brain is basically -- when it looks at that image your brain is adding stuff from the vast array of prior experiences of other squares, boxes, rooms, with angles and so on, and it's constructing the square that you saw. neurons in your visual cortex at the back of your brain constructed that image for you. they were changing the firing -- the own firing to create line that weren't present so you could see a shape that actually wasn't physically there. so you were in a manner of speaking hallucinating. not the scary kind of issue better get to the hospital sore of hallucination but the everyday, my brain is built to work like this hallucination. your experience of that square reveals a couple of insights. your past experiences from direct encounters, from photos,
3:59 pm
movies and books and so on, give meaning to your present sensations. ... .... ....
4:00 pm
>> have you heard a song you cannot get rid of? that is a simulation as well.
4:01 pm
>> cortisol to use the sugar in the apple.
4:02 pm
right now your brain is changing the firing of its own sensory neurons.
4:03 pm
usual in my book "how emotions are made" i explained how that is no different from what you're doing right now you make the cure listening to me speak in reacting but in fact your brain is creating simulations that are predicting every single word that comes out of my -- mouth. [laughter] so your break right now is doing something remarkable neurons in some part of the brain for changing the firing and other parts to anticipate what is coming next. in this is how i like to think about it your brain works like a scientist always making a slew of predictions just like a scientist makes a hypothesis. and then you use and how each
4:04 pm
prediction was true and then compare them to incoming sensory input so if your brain predicts well said your simulating the apple of i pulled one out to show a two year-old but no new information would enter into your brain but then it captured that visual information than it was exactly as you had predicted it, and no knew information from this apple would enter into your brain because you were already prepared to see it essentially.
4:05 pm
let's say the apple was slightly more green than what you would predicted. your brain would then change, it would learn the error and change its representation of the apple so you would see the apple differently. this is -- we have a very fancy name for this in the science of psychology and neuro science. we call it learning. and then you can use it to predict better in the future. so then to maintain their
4:06 pm
or your brain can run experiments to imagine the world without any prediction error at all just as you did when you imagined the apple orare -- or are hearing the song you can't get out of your head. examples i have used here are about objects and events like apples and squares. but the important and wonderful thing is the same process happens about the senations inside your own body. you have to understand how emotions are made.
4:07 pm
i am at the wrong page. from your brain's perspective, your body is just another source of sensory input it has to make meaningful. sensations from your heart from changing temperature and so on are ambiguous and these purely physical sensations are no objective psychological meaning. if you feel an ache in your stomach while at the dinner table you might experience that as hunger. if it is the flu season it might be nausea. if you are a judge in a courtroom you might be experience that feeling when a defendant can't be trusted. your brain uses your past experience to give meaning to the internal sensations from the body and external sensations
4:08 pm
from the world and this is happening throughout your entire life. from an aching stomach your brain constructs hunger, nausea or mistrust. now consider the same stomach ache can also occur when you are sniffing a diaper that is heavy with lamb like at my daughter's birthday party or you might experience the ache as longing if your lover walks into the room or if you are in the doctor's office you might experience the same ache as an anxious feeling. in these cases of disgust, longing and anxiety your brain is using past experience to make sense of the meaning of your aching stomach together with the other senations around you in the world. -- sensations. this is how your brain constructs your experiences and guides your actions.
4:09 pm
this is how emotions are made. emotions are meaning. they explain your body senations in terms of what is going on around you. the simulations that make emotion not only give you your feelings but also allow your brain to know exactly what to do next. they are prescription for action. so your emotions are not your reactions to the world even though it feels that way to you. in fact, they are your constructions of the world or more precisely your brain is constructing a representation of your body in the world in a given moment and this representation is your experience. often it is an experience of emotion. now, this perspective i realize is new to many of you. the book actually provides plenty of examples and a lot of evidence to help you understand how your brain works. when we talk about this as a new
4:10 pm
there oh, we are using the word theory in a scientific way. a theory is a set of ideas, hypotheses that are backed up by a tremendous amount of scientific evidence as is the case with this theory. in how emotions are made, you will learn how the brain works, how this information empowers you to be able to better control your own emotion and improve your emotional intelligence, it will show you how understanding how your brain works can actually benefit you in many domains of your life. and in addition, it also explains why the theory of constructed emotion is so counter intuitive. how emotions are made also uses the science of emotion as a convenient flash lay to illuminate all sorts of issues are emotions are important like
4:11 pm
in the relationship between physical and mental health. in the law, in communicating across cultures, in rearing your children, and even addressing whether animals have emotions like human emotions. the book takes on one of my favorite topics which is how this new science of emotions changes our understanding of what it means to be human. what i would like to do now is take your questions or listen to your comments and thoughts. and encourage you to have a close look at the book. >> how is this information about how the brain is working been found? through an mri? >> there are a number of scientific literatures. one thing we know for example is
4:12 pm
from an anatomical perspective we can see the brain is wired were prediction. we can see the brain is wired to use your past experience to make guesses about what is going to happen next and it is sort of continually doing this. neuro anatomy tells us something about how the brain works predictively. there is evidence from signal processing so your neurons have electrical signals and that is how part of neurons talk to each other. there is evidence from signaling, physiology, certainly evidence from brain imaging as well, evidence from lesion studies of humans and other animals who have brain lesions, there is evidence from observing young babies and children in how
4:13 pm
they learn to have emotion and learn to experience other people as having emotion to perceive emotion in others, there is evidence from cross cultural work where team of researchers, including some of my own, have gone to remote cultures around the world including to africa. we sent two teams to africa. just a lot of evidence from different domains of signs to reveal to us that even though to us it feels like we are reacting to the world and emotions you know lurk in some deep animalistic parts of our brain our brains are not structured that way and don't really work that way. >> it sounds like we have little control in a certain way so you know, feeling an emotion i would assume it is not exactly legitimate but that the brain has constructed this.
4:14 pm
so where is me in a certain way? >> that is a great question. i actually talk about the self and you know, your ownership of your emotions. when you start to think about how the brain works a couple things are clear. you will never be able to snap your fingers and change how you feel. that is just not possible. you might be able to take a dealing of distress and change it from sadness to anger just by changing the simulation your brain does. but turning down the volume on the intensity of the feeling is super hard to do. that being said, this understanding the predictive power of the brain allows you to broaden the horizon. if your brain is using the past
4:15 pm
experience to predict and construct what you are about to feel, like in the sort of immediate future, it means if you invest a little bit of evidence to cultivate new experiences from the present that feeds your brain to automatically make difference emotions in the future. that is one way that learning the emotions words, concepts from other cultures, can actually broaden the vocabulary of emotions that your brain can make and if you practice it can make them automatically with very little effort from you. there are additional benefits to learning emotional words. for school age children, when you teach them to broad n their emotional vocabulary 20-30 minutes a week, it doesn't just improve their social functioning and ability to communicate but
4:16 pm
improves their test scores and changes the whole emotional climate of a classroom because the kids have more control over their experience and their behavior. yup? >> i was going to say something. [inaudible question] >> a lot of the time we think of emotions as sort of these innate and uncontrollable actions that just happen. but like sort of like being able to recognize that there is nothing about an emotion that is an action. it is all just a prediction. that means you have the capability to recognize that prediction before you act. which is like -- it feels very liberating to realize that and
4:17 pm
being able to change your emotions by represent eggs around you and these new learning instances. i have learned about different therapy like ddt. >> that is exactly right. often times i get questions where people ask me how does the theory relate to ddt or different therapy. what you are describing is one really important piece of this. your brain is automatically constructing stimulations as
4:18 pm
predictions of what is going to happen next. it is using the present sensory array right now like sights, sounds and feelings from the buddy in the present moment to predict what is going to happen in the next moment. it uses the evidence from the next moment to confirm those predictions and they become your experience or to modify them. one way to also control your emotions is to notice more details, to be mindful of more details in the present moment. that actually gives your brain more freedom to stimulate new and different things. there is a very cool thing that our brains do. our brains don't just search for a match in your prior experience and then retrieve a memory file. our brains can take bits and pieces of past experience and
4:19 pm
use them and assemble them in a brand new way to make simulations and therefore predictions. that is how we have, you know, terrific imaginations and how we day dream. but that is really also how we make emotions. so we can make emotions sometimes we don't even have words for because we can make the stimulation on the fly using bits and pieces of past experience. for example, before we had a german word shotten floyd and anyone know what that means? >> enjoying the suffering of others. >> it is to enjoy pleasure at someone else's discomfort. but even before we knew that word we could perceive that emotion but it was difficult.
4:20 pm
there is a scientific term for this and it is generativety. if i wanted to explain feeling pleasure at someone else's misfortune it would take me a bunch of words to explain the experience and the context in which i was experiencing this emotion so you didn't think i was a horrible person. if you don't know me and i am just telling you how i am feeling pleasure at someone else's dysphor -- misfortune you might think what is wrong with her. instead though when we learn the word i can just say a single word to you and conjure in your brain a simulation with many features in a very efficient
4:21 pm
way. the more detail that you pay attention to in the world the more words you learn and concepts you learn and the more control you have over your emotions. i will just say one last thing. controlling your emotion doesn't mean not making some emotions and making others. it sometimes means not making an emotion. in the book, i describe this instance which is a true story where i was in graduate school and there was this guy asking me out and i kept saying no and eventually i said yes. i went out for coffee and while we are having coffee i realize i am feeling flushed and jittery
4:22 pm
and having trouble concentrating and thought i must be attracted to him and he asked me to go out again and i was like okay, feeling enthuiastic. i went home, put my keys in the door, opened the door, dropped by keys on the floor and ran to the bathroom and was in bed with the flu for a week. the sweatiness and jitteriness, i wasn't mistaking that for attraction but using those feelings to create attraction. i did date this guy for a couple months actually. but imagine how much grief i would have saved myself if i had been able to not take those feelings and construct an emotion out of them but to construct merely a physical semitism symptom such as i'm
4:23 pm
coming down with the flu. other questions? >> one thing you talked about, you know, actually seeing what is going on in the world and looking at it. i may be totally wrong about this but i don't think. i read the visual cortext is constantly bomb barded by photons and it creates templates so if you are coming out the
4:24 pm
front door you think you are looking at your street but you are looking at a generalization your brain made about the street. am i going off the deep end here? >> no, i would say i don't think your brain is creating generalizations. but there is a lot of sensory information in the world that is very regular. so, what your brain -- your brain is very efficient. it is important for the brain to be efficient. i mean literally metabolic. if it isn't metabolic efficient there is a problem. those little neurons are very expensive and take up 20% of the metabolic budget even though the brain only weighs three pounds. it is important to be
4:25 pm
metabolically efficient and you do that with the brain getting rid of redundandcy. your retina removes what is different. right now your retina is taking in information that is going to your visual cortext but it is removing all the correlated signals and only sending the differences in the visual sensations from the last moment. it is very efficient that way. >> it is like the dog running across the street or the personal you know suddenly showing up. but it is possible to consciously make yourself see to actually look, to kind of dispel this generation. >> it is but it is very hard. let me give you an example.
4:26 pm
>> a couple years ago i wanted to learn to paint. i am saying this when i have two artists in the audience so forgive me. but i wanted to learn to paint and where learned if you take a three dimensional object and try to transfer it on a two dimensional canvas you will get a pretty crappy looking object. i would have used a more colorful language but we are on televisi television. what you can do is train yourself to deconstruct the object into pieces of light. if you train yourself to see pieces of light and you transfer the pieces of light on to the canverse you will get a reasonbly looking object on a
4:27 pm
c canvas. you can train yourself to see the world differently. but what you are doing there is essentially you are simulating differently. i want to give you another example. maybe my assistant will come back up. but i have another example of this that might answer your question. here is an image i will show you. the black and white, yeah. yeah. that one. so, for any of you who have seen this before, fernando, don't say anything. what do you see in this image, anyone? anyone? >> i am not sure. >> right.
4:28 pm
a lot of people see blobs of black and white. if that is what you are seeing then you have experiencing something called expertiiential blindness. your brain can't predict what this is so you don't really see anything. now i will give you an experience to cure expertise -- experiential blindness. now, when you look at this how many of you can still see a snake? not too many. want to do it again? it works better when i have a computer because i can just overlay one on top of the other. take it away.
4:29 pm
so for many people they can see the head of the snake, they can see part of the body of the snake, and again this is very similar to what happened with the white with the four pack that made the square. ....
4:30 pm
i just gave you an experience of a san snake for, what, ten seco. so your brain's ability to make that, to modulate its own neuron to make that image in your head is much weaker than to make a louisiana swamp which you have been make your whole life. so you have to practice. you have to practice being able
4:31 pm
to make a new simulation and if you practice it a little bit it will become easier to do so that eventually it becomes very automatic for you to do. so it is possible for you to change how you see things, absolutely. yep. >> two questions. this may be sort of semantics but when you talked about -- okay, you see the snake and then you see in the black and white picture. you're seeing lines. could you also say that you're not seeing the black and white picture differentlyow -- you're just interpreting it differently. >> you could si that but of course, every thought and feeling and interpretation that you have occurs somewhere in your brain.
4:32 pm
so, even if you were -- first of all, i have to tell you it's not just an interpretation. it's a vision. what i want to do is address the philosophical issue. when you say isn't it just interpretation. say, well, an interpretation also occurs in the firing of your neurons. if you can't heave noor aroundded that fired in a particular way you wouldn't have an interpretation. everything, every mental event you experience a computational moment in your brain. if your neurons are not working you don't have an experience. let me say it slight deliveredly. when we -- we can influence the kinds of predictions that people make without their awareness. so, for example, we have -- it's a procedure that is called
4:33 pm
continuous flash suppression. so, to one eye, we present a neutral face, like a face of a person that is not making any expressions, just at rest. and then we'll also maybe flash some visual noise or some black and white squares and then the neutral face again. so there's a lot of dynamic visual information being flashed, including a neutral face. and then in the other eye, we present information that is positive or negative -- going to make the person feel more pleasant or unpleasant. we're actually changing the fill state of their body without their awareness. this image is low con tramps when i present two images too your face, your eyes your brain only -- you brain encodes both but you consciously only see one. so the other one is still
4:34 pm
being --ure neurons are still capture it your completely visually unaware of that. it changes interpretation of the face. when i make you feel more pleasant, change your physical sensation with an image that you will -- will make your feel more pleasant. you see that neutral face as more truth trustworthy, more intelligence, more attractive. when i without your awareness change your feeling to be more negative, more unpleasant, you see that person as less likeable and so on and so forth. so that's changing the interpretation of the face. but it also actually changes the visual image of the face. the visual image of the face. that is, people actually see the face as slightly more pleasant or slightly less pleasant, depending on how we have manipulated their physical state.
4:35 pm
so the point is that when your -- there's really good evidence to show that when your brain is creating a simulation, you are changing the firing, not just of regions that are thought to be important interpretation. we put someone in a scanner and they're lying completely still, and their ire eyes are closed and they're listen doing brief prompt to create a whole simulated image and then we scan the while they're creating a simulation. they're lying completely still in the scanner but we see massive activity, changes of activity, in the sensory cortex and motor cortex, even though they're not moving. massive changes in primary visual cortex.
4:36 pm
changes in odder to core text, but -- auditory cortex, and even though they're no longer listening to the cierre question we see changes and also see changes in the regions of the brain that represent sensations from the body and that actually control the body so we see changeness brain stem regions down that are actually controlling the body. so, simulations are fully embodied, which means it isn't just changing what we would understand. it's actually changing the way that sensations are perceived. was that your one question? >> thank you. the other question, you said at the beginning that you have some suggestions or ideas in the book about how to either change your emotions or control your emotions or something like that.
4:37 pm
can you talk more about that? >> i can. i've begin an example about changing -- exposing your brain to -- that's their car tier yap -- to cultivators ands than increase vocabulary. here's another example. your brain -- we think of brain as necessary for -- having evolved for thinking and feeling and for seeing, but actually brains evolved for the purpose of controlling your body. so, if you didn't move and you didn't need to expend resources in order to take in more resources you wouldn't need a brain. the brain's -- one of its primary jobs is to control the
4:38 pm
systems of your body to control your autonomic nervous system, control our immune system, which keeps you healthy, unless you develop an out to immune disorder and your metabolism, and i does this predifficultily. it's preparing your -- predictively. it's preparing your body to move in advance of the movement. right? so for example, if you're sitting down and your brain is about to stand you up it needs to change your blood pressure so oxygen can get to your brain before you stand. if it did it after you stand, you would faint. when you're playing baseball, for example, it seems to you as if the pitcher is throwing a ball and you look at the ball and then you go to swing, right? so the ball is the stimulus and you swing as a reaction. in fact if you waited until you
4:39 pm
consciously saw the ball and then swung the ball would go wiz whizzing by because yaw can't plant and found a physical action to react. what is happening when people play baseball is they see where the ball is at any given moment and predict where the ball will be and their brain begins to prepare the swing in advance to hit the ball where they're predicting it's going to be. so that's why baseball is this very cruel kind of dynamic between the pitcher and the batter because the pitcher is trying to get the batter to misredirect the ball will be. as your brain controls your body in this manner, you -- it also is anticipating the sensations from your body. so, the beat of your heart and the expansion of your lungs and so on and so forth.
4:40 pm
most of the time you can't people that. you don't -- none of us feel the sensations from our body with the same degree of detail that we experience the outside world, and the reason why, we're not wired to feel every ache and pain in our body because if we did we'd never pay take to anything in the outside world. when sun was append situs -- aspend situs you get this dull ache in your whole abdomen and takes hours and hours to become a very, very precise pain. so most of the time when those sensations from our body we experience as pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling, feeling work up, feeling calm. very simple feelings that scientist call affect or mood. they're not specific to emotion. your brain is controlling your body your whole life and every waking moment of your life you
4:41 pm
have some feels of affect. sometimes when they're intense you make emotion out of them. other times you make other things like per send. so somebody cuts yaw off on the highway. you are like that guy is an asshole or that's a delicious drink or so on. so, when your brain is -- you can think of your brain as the financial office of your body. it is helping to figure out where resources are needed to keep everything in balance. so, if you're about to stand up and need oxygen to your muscles it will move oxygen to your muscles and less oxygen somewhere else. when your brain is to having trouble real -- regulating you body. when your body budget -- trying to regular late your expend did tour of energy and the intake,
4:42 pm
revenues, and when your budget is a little in the red you experience that, not as physical sensations in your body. youer and ends at feeling crappy. now we have the kind of culture that is designed to throw our bodies out of balance. many things which to the a body bug out of balance -- body budget out of balance. he we ha to device a context that cause people feel crappy a lot of the time it would be our culture. we don't sleep enough. eat pseudo food. don't exercise enough. the being e best thing for a human's body budget is another human. the worst thing for another human -- a human's body budget another human.
4:43 pm
if i want to mess up your body budget i only have to thick might be evaluating you negatively. not that for sure i am just with some ambiguity and are that will not your body budget out of balance immediately. so, a lot of times we are walking around -- people are walking around with unbalanced body budgets and feel like crap, and if you feel like crp in a very intense way your brain will make an emotion out of it. a lot of negative emotions come from an unbalanced body budget. sounds like i'm bag mother instead of a neuroscientist when i say eat vegetables, get you've sleep, exercise every day. that sounds really like i'm being a mother, and i am being a mother. i am a mother so i say that my daughter and she has the appropriate eye roll.
4:44 pm
i tell you, you can control an ingredient to make emotions and that is to keep your body budget as healthy as possible because that will affect how often you make negative emotion and what kind of negative emotion you'll make. so, that is one whole domain that it talk about in the book, and i also talk about how the connection between your mind and your body is not metaphorical. understanding the architecture of the predictive brain is clear the relationship between medical health and physical health or mental illness and physical illness. that's ago example hough you can control your emotions in ways that wouldn't necessarily seem to be important to emotion but in fact are extremely potent
4:45 pm
ways to regulate your feelings. >> the reaction from your field in general to your idea of -- [inaudible] -- very broad field, very popular. >> right. right. so -- what your name? >> kate. >> kate just mentioned the trying brain. for those who don't know what that word means, it's the idea that it's really the idea that come from plato. when he wrote about the human psyche, or mind as we call it now, he talked about the human mind having three parts. appetites, like hunger and a desire for sex, thirst and so on. emotions, which he called the passions. and appetites and passions or emotions were represented at two wild horses that were controlled
4:46 pm
by a chariot driver, which was representing rationality or cognition. well, for many, many centuries, for a long time, scientists believed this also represented how the brain evolved. so, who here has heard of a lizard brain, we have a lizard brain? idea that our appetites are part of our lizard brain, deep inside the brain stem of our brains, and then wrapped around that is a system which evolved to represent emotions. where emotion circuits are supposed to be. that's the hypothesis. then controlling all of that is -- are highly evolved cortex and that rattallity is --
4:47 pm
rationality is control ago parts of the brain. that's a great story. a story that is very popular. it's popular in industry in the media. everybody loves that story. the problem with the story is that your brain didn't evolve -- no brain evolved with sedimentary layers. the core test didn't evolve like frosting 0 on a cake. it's been known that brains did no evolve at that time way. not organized that way, as bray done brains are like companies to use a phrase from the neurobiologist george streeter. as they grow they re-organize to become efficient. there's actually -- it's highly debated still whether -- for the most part most of the core text of -- cortex of your brain can
4:48 pm
be found in every mammal. one or two parts where people debate whether it's new to primates, let's say, but even in those cases it's pretty clear to a lot of us that there is no neocortex. it's actually just certain parts of to brain have grown bigger because they developed for longer in development. so, i guess my -- so, just to say that one of the most deeply held views, cherished views of human nature is imbedded in the trying brain idea and it's fundmentally flawed and i must say that the law is -- the law embodied the trying brain, economics embody -- this idea that we have -- that your mind us a battle ground between emotion and cognition. that those two are in battle to control your behavior. that is just a myth, basically.
4:49 pm
so how do people respond? it depends, actually, on who you ask. right? so, evolutionary biologists have -- celebrate the theory of constructed emotion. they actually -- i would say statisticians, engineers, anybody who does anything computational, there's a whole branch of computational neuroscience and their reaction to this book is -- what's the fuss about. nobody believes there's one circuit for anger, one circuit for fear, one for sadness in your brain. nobody really believes that. and i'm, actually, there are people who believe that. in psychology, i think it depends. the place where the debate is most intense is in the science
4:50 pm
of emotion itself. it tends to break down in the following way. young people, young scientists, and scientists who know something about anatomy or physiology, who do something more than just neuroimaging, tend to find this very compelling and useful because the ideas in this book, the theory in this book, doesn't just explain the existing evidence, doesn't just explain the anomalies of the classical view of emotion which is the idea that we have these innate emotion circuits. so doesn't just explain the anomalies or the existing evidence. also opens up brand new questions that nobody has ever thought to ask before, which is the value of a good theory. right? not just to explain what we know.
4:51 pm
it's also to broaden what we don't know so that we can make additional discoverses that will help people in their everyday lives. are there some people who still cling to the classical view of emotion? for sure there are some. i even thanked some of them in acknowledgment section of my book because they have their whole careers are restingon this idea of the classical view of emotion. to some extent they participate in the process of science just as much as anybody else. so, what i will say is this. in 20 years from now, i hope that a lot of what is in the book will still be -- we'll still believe it to be true, but even if something of it isn't, some is improved, it's still
4:52 pm
part of the process of science, as i think you know, is using theory and existing theory and existing tools to push the boundaries of discovery, which means sometimes some of the things you think are true today turn out to be maybe only conditionally true. dotes thank it's try -- it's highly doubtful that classical view is true but it's useful in certain context. we know that equations don't tell us how the universe works bur they super useful in plotting trajectories of satellites reasons the earth
4:53 pm
einstein's discoveries didn't invalidate everything newton had to say. newton -- it showed what newton thought was universal, it's only true or served conditions. so, i think that part of -- one thing that i try to make clear in the book is that the classical view of emotion, the people who study that view, it's not that they discovered nothing or that why they discovered is completely wrong. it's that the discoveries actually are revealing something to us that is important but maybe different from what they thought. right? if emotion -- if it feels to us like emotions just happen to us, feels as if we just look someone's face and we can read the remotion in someone's face like we read words on the page, even though it's not true at that time we have circuits in our brains for emotion, even though it's not true we have
4:54 pm
certificates that allow to us make expressions and recognize them innately, even though that's not true, the fact we have those experiences because it feels that way -- not to everybody in the world put to us -- is indication that there's something really important there to be explained, right? the insight is not the -- the experience is not wrong. right? it's just that what we learn from those insights and experiences is just somewhat different from what those scientists thought they learned. the data are still valuable. thank you so much. [applause] >> lisa will be sitting at the table to sign copies of the book and remind you that anything else you purchase is 20% off if
4:55 pm
you buy one of the event books and thank you all for coming. >> thank you for your attention and your great questions. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> the kids -- we have been
4:56 pm
talking a lot with our entire school about mindfulness, and about being able to slow down and change it just slightly. well issue can't do that. i can't do that at the moment. >> right. >> i think there's a lot there. >> yeah. >> i have to tell you that a couple of things. one is that there are program. s that actually teach young children emotion words, and it's remarkable, actually, what the affects are. i'm thinking of the work done by -- at the yale center for emotional intelligence, for example. it's really remarkable. and part of the reason why they have such a big affect is that they actually help kids, first of all, to notice details they iowa would not have noticed. but also the part of the brain that are involved in learning words and learning concepts actually those parts of the brain regulate your body directly.
4:57 pm
so concept and words, emotion words-mental state words are tools your brain uses to literally control the physical systems of your body. very, very clear. i just published a paper about this on monday in the journal of nature human behavior. we sort of laid out the circuitry. the second thing is that for older kids, the culture of casual brutality, the way they talk to each other, the way they treat each other, very bad. >> i agree. >> it's very bad for their health. it's very bad for their mental health, for their health and very beside for their nervous systems in general. i think that in fact i'm in the process of putting together an article for magazine about this, that i think one of the major barriers to innovation -- we're
4:58 pm
in an anyone vacation culture. our ability to be -- to compete in a global economy depends on innovation. innovation requires kids to be able to learn to fail and then they learn to innovate. one of the key aspects of innovation is learning to fail. right? when you want to learn -- how do you learn? you have to work hard, and working hard can be unpleasant but if you're already burdened by social uncertainty where people are evaluating you, speaking to you in a way that is very unpleasant, they're on social media all the time, they're not sleeping enough, and -- i'm not talking about bullshit liberal political correctness here. we have a cultural casual brutality.
4:59 pm
it's mirrored on television. ... .... .... >> i go into a little bit about mindfulness and vocabulary and if we have predicting brains and influence each other's nervous system, then our responsibility is only to ourselves to control
5:00 pm
our own emotions. >> i can't wait to get into this book. [inaudible conversation [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv on c-span. booktv tell vist for serious readers. >> host: gay talese, your heart has been described as the ard of hanging out. what does that mean? >> i tend to be with the people i am talking to personally.

45 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on