Understanding Emotions: Not Built-In, But Created by the Brain
Welcome to The Sunday Wisdom, where you can learn new things with minimal effort. In this edition, we discuss the concept of emotions and how they are created by the brain.
The Misconception about Emotions
For centuries, the common belief has been that emotions are built-in and surface automatically in response to an external stimulus. It is widely accepted that emotions are universal and can easily be recognized by facial expressions and body language. However, this view is flawed and not supported by evidence.
Emotions are Not Built-In, But Created
According to scientific research, emotions are not built-in but are created from basic parts. The physical properties of the body, upbringing and culture, and a flexible brain that adapts to the environment, combine to produce emotions. There is no uniformity in the way emotions are experienced, and there is no physical fingerprint for any specific emotion.
Emotions are Real, But not in the Objective Sense
Emotions are real, but not in an objective sense. They are a product of human agreement and socialization.
Example of a Powerful Emotion
A powerful example of how emotions are constructed by the brain is when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi almost broke down on national television while offering condolences during the peak of the pandemic. Despite the situation triggering a certain emotion in most viewers, it did not have a physical fingerprint. Instead, the brain used past experiences and cultural context to simulate the emotion.
Understanding the Neuroscience Behind Emotions
The brain functions as a guessing machine by utilizing past experiences to construct a simulation of what is happening in the world. The brain creates a hypothesis and compares it with the data arriving from the senses to make sense of the information. This simulation lets the brain impose meaning on the noise, selecting what is relevant and ignoring the rest. Concepts of objects, such as bees, guide how the brain simulates emotions.
Emotions are not built-in but are created by a combination of the physical body, culture, upbringing, and a flexible brain that adapts to the environment. The brain creates simulations based on past experiences to construct emotions, allowing it to impose meaning on external stimuli.
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