Emotion in the Pursuit of Understanding

Emotion in the Pursuit of Understanding

Daniel S. Levine (University of Texas at Arlington, USA) and Leonid I. Perlovsky (Harvard University, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/jse.2010070101
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Theories of cognitive processes, such as decision making and creative problem solving, for a long time neglected the contributions of emotion or affect in favor of analysis based on use of deliberative rules to optimize performance. Since the 1990s, emotion has increasingly been incorporated into theories of these cognitive processes. Some theorists have in fact posited a “dual-systems approach” to understanding decision making and high-level cognition. One system is fast, emotional, and intuitive, while the other is slow, rational, and deliberative. However, one’s understanding of the relevant brain regions indicate that emotional and rational processes are deeply intertwined, with each exerting major influences on the functioning of the other. Also presented in this paper are neural network modeling principles that may capture the interrelationships of emotion and cognition. The authors also review evidence that humans, and possibly other mammals, possess a “knowledge instinct,” which acts as a drive to make sense of the environment. This drive typically incorporates a strong affective component in the form of aesthetic fulfillment or dissatisfaction.
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2. Dual Processes?

The last section provides behavioral evidence that emotion and cognition are deeply interconnected and difficult to separate. In further support of this notion, neuroscientists have found that brain areas cannot be neatly separated into specialized “emotional” and “cognitive” regions (e.g., Pessoa, 2008; Swanson, 2005).

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