Neurophysiological and Neurobiological Basis of Emotions and Mood

Neurophysiological and Neurobiological Basis of Emotions and Mood

Igor V. Pantic (University of Belgrade, Serbia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7513-9.ch003
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Emotions and mood are complex psychic phenomena that play important roles in everyday behavior. No anatomical structure can be identified as a specific brain center for emotions, and a neurophysiological basis of emotions is unclear and hard to define. Today, it is thought that neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine have important roles in mood regulation, and much of the evidence for this assumption is based on the effectiveness of antidepressant medications currently available in psychiatric practice. James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, and Schachter's and other theories historically tried to explain the origin and formation of emotional responses. Despite extensive research efforts on this topic, many aspects regarding the nature of emotional responses remain unclear. Multidisciplinary approach, including the adequate cooperation of psychiatrists, neurophysiologists, and experts from other areas, is needed to provide us with a more comprehensive insight on biological basis of conative psychic functions.
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Over the past few years, in many publications, the importance of the prefrontal cortex in the modulation of both positive and negative emotions has been highlighted. Left prefrontal cortex, as well as the nerve pathways in the nearby white mass of the brain seem to be of particular importance. Harmon-Jones and associates have shown that after the induction of an unpleasant emotion (after suffering an insult), the activity of the left frontal cortex increases, while on the right it decreases.

It is believed that amygdaloid nuclei are of particular importance in the creation and modulation of feelings of fear, anger and disgust. Amygdala are anatomically composed of the basolateral complex, a medial nucleus, the medial nucleus, the cortical nucleus, and the intercalated cell clusters. It is still not known whether any of these structures is responsible for specific emotions. It is possible that there are significant differences between the amygdala on the left and the right. According to some authors, the right amigdaloid core is primarily responsible for negative emotions. Amygdala are closely related to other parts of the limbic system, and in particular to the structures responsible for the learning and memory process. The relationship with the hippocampus ensures that amygdaloid nuclei have a potentially important role in information selection and storage in long term memory. Such emotional learning is considered to be the key for the development and normal functioning of interpersonal relationships and connections. The latest research suggests that the amygdala is also significant in the modulation of positive emotions (Albert, Vahid-Ansari, & Luckhart, 2014; Haller, 2018; Mohammadi, Haghir, Fazel, & Vafaei, 2013; Young et al., 2018).

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