Event Abstract

What is an emotion in the first place? Time to sort things out

  • 1 University of Newcastle, School of Psychology, Australia
  • 2 Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health Research, Australia

Research on emotion has a long history, and yet, we still don’t understand how exactly it contributes to guiding behaviour and how it interacts with cognition, not even do we have an agreeable definition of emotion in the first place. There is accumulating scientific evidence that supports the idea to more clearly define what and what should not be labelled an emotion. By taking various different simultaneous measures while study participants view emotional material it turns out that the same set of stimuli causes different patterns of results depending on the measure and its sensitivity. These different findings mirror the fact that emotion-related processing happens on various different levels and thus deserves a more sophisticated terminology. Various different data are presented that support an emotion-model that defines emotion as the behavioural output of affective information processing (see Walla & Panksepp, 2013). Also, affective processing is separate from cognitive processing and it evolved before language came into existence. Thus, it is hard to find words for deep and raw affective content, which in turn means that survey-based investigations about emotion-related information may not necessarily tell us the entire truth. The fields for implications are enormous and span from basic neuroscience over clinical domains to even consumer neuroscience and marketing.


Peter Walla and Jaak Panksepp (2013). Neuroimaging Helps to Clarify Brain Affective Processing Without Necessarily Clarifying Emotions, Novel Frontiers of Advanced Neuroimaging, Prof. Kostas Fountas (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0923-5, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/51761. Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/novel-frontiers-of-advanced-neuroimaging/neuroimaging-helps-to-clarify-brain-affective-processing-without-necessarily-clarifying-emotions

Keywords: Emotions, affective processing, brain imaging, Self Report, Models, Biological

Conference: ASP2013 - 23rd Annual meeting of the Australasian Society for Psychophysiology, Wollongong, Australia, 20 Nov - 22 Nov, 2013.

Presentation Type: Keynote Address

Topic: Emotion

Citation: Walla P (2013). What is an emotion in the first place? Time to sort things out. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: ASP2013 - 23rd Annual meeting of the Australasian Society for Psychophysiology. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2013.213.00033

Received: 05 Nov 2013; Published Online: 05 Nov 2013.

* Correspondence: Prof. Peter Walla, University of Newcastle, School of Psychology, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, peter.walla@newcastle.edu.au

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