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Thread: On Emotion is the Binary Feeling Consist of Affect and Sensa

  1. #1 On Emotion is the Binary Feeling Consist of Affect and Sensa 
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    On Emotion is the Binary Feeling Consist of Affect and Sensation

    1. A hypothesis: emotions consist of affect and cognitive sensation

    James thought that emotions are the sensations of body changes such as heart beats fast,muscular tension. But people further see that it might we have these sensations without emotions (as when we play sports ) and we do not necessarily have these sensations when we have the emotions such as respect, adore. This shows that the body sensations are neither sufficient nor common for emotions, their meaning may be only provides a distinctive feature for the distinction between different kinds of emotions.

    James once said: " Without the bodily states following on the perception, the latter would be purely cognitive in form, pale, colourless, destitute of emotional warmth.[1]" But looking at the perceptions of bodily states have no the nature of emotion when we play sports,the perception of bodily state is also purely cognitive in form,pale and destitute of emotional warmth under it is missing something. Although it is rare to the explanation of the difference in perceiving forms between cognition and emotion,the simple description for their basic characteristic may be as follows:The cognitive perceiving form, its basis is the various special sensations. Each sensation has a special receptors, a special neural pathway and a special cortical region. The sensations which compliant with the above conditions include color,brightness,sound,pressure,temperature site(include the site of a body part), the movement states of internal organs(such as a rise in heart-beats,the peristalsis in stomach,breathing rhythms),muscular tension or relax, and other mechanical sensations of body such as picotement,formication and so on. Certainly,there is hardly any the circumstance that we perceive external objects or our body by single sensation, the complex perception is the actual mental unit,and it has integrating the images of memory and imagination in the unit. So what are usually called sensations also refer to perception. The emotions, it is generally considered that they arise from some neural structure of limbic system in the core place of brain,and they have no special receptors and special neural pathway,and their projections of cortex are diffuse. Then, either from the view of phenomenon or classify them according to the elementary knowledge of their neural basis,all those James' body sensations from internal organs,muscles and so on are belong to the non-emotion and cognitive sensation. Although the body sensations are indeed necessary for some emotions. Or,they are “superposition” with other kind of mental entities(the concept of superposition borrow from Damasio,he has proposed that the whole feeling of emotion is formed by the body images and the others images of visual or auditory and so on in the form of assembling be juxtaposition / superposition in the brain [2]),as in the emotions of fear and anger. But they are not necessary for some other emotions,and may be replaced by the sensations of external objects, as in the emotions of interest, curiosity, respect and aesthetic feeling,that is, when we are concentrating on external objects or when the emotions are not strong. And there is a lack of agreement between a body sensation and its subjective natures (pleasant or unpleasant). For instance, the sensation of heartbeat, it can be either unpleasant (as when you are fear) or pleasant (as the so-called “I hear myself heartbeating, being with you” ). All these suggest that the sensations from body and external objects are important to various emotions,but they are neither sufficient nor pervasive. They can concomitancy with some emotions, and can also be separate from emotions and exist alone. Apparently, for emotion,besides those sensations there is also another more essential thing.

    The research of “binding” problem suggested that perception is likely the whole mental image which is formed by the neural activities that occur in separate brain regions and integrate in time [3]. The emotion may be such "perception" which has integrated the neural activities in separate brain regions, and this integration may be spans the boundary between sensation and another kind of mental entity that as the essence of emotion. In neural basis,this integration may be occur between cerebral cortex and some neural structures in limbic system. That is,so-called emotions may actually be the complex feelings consist of some sensations( from body or outside) and the mental entity that has universality for all emotions through integration, in different forms of assembling, in time and space. For instance, the emotion of a typical fear, it may be consist of the cognitive sensations of a visual image of an object, a muscle tension, a heart beat fast, a polypnea and another non-cognitive mental entity that exists in all emotions. For such mental entity that has universality for emotions, we can use the term afect whose concept has more universality among related words. That is,all the emotions may be the complex feeling consist of of the two disparate mental entities of sensation and affect. The concepts of afect and emotion are consistent partially with Leventhal’s idea. He thinks that first of all the individual has an affect caused by external information,“this is just a simple negative or positive affect, rather than more complicated emotion that has a fine-classification. Then the feedbacks from expressive system and autonomic nervous system cause the production of emotion [4].” Moreover, such concept of affect is consistent with Johnston’s hedonic tone(pleasure or displeasure)that as a important component of all the feelings(include emotional feelings and sensory feelings)[5].

    2. The objectification of affect: a important psychologic mechanism of emotion

    The sensations in our emotion,they should be those cognitive sensations or perceptions of body and external object that we can feel them in the states of emotion or non-emotion. The body sensations that often shows up in emotions include muscular tension, a rise in heart rate,polypnea(as fear and anger),temperature sensation within heart or stomach(as feel cold in heart when we are sadness; feel warm in heart when we are delight),and some the movements of internal organs (as drastic gastrointestinal stirrings when we are despair) and so on. The sensations of external objects, it seems they are not so closely linked to emotion as the body sensations,but sometimes they are necessary to some emotions, such as the visual image of a object that make us fear, the visual or auditory images in aesthetic feeling, and so on. All these basic sensations are base on the special receptors, special neural pathway and special cortical region. It has been found that the neurochemical bases are basically the same for all kinds of sensations, their specificity reflected in special cortical region. By different sensations, we can reflects the all kinds of distinctive features of body and external objects. These sensations themselves do not possess the attribute of emotion, and they can not only involve in emotions, but also occur alone. But they might have an important meaning for the distinctive feature between different kinds of emotions. The features in some emotions such as tension,relax and so-called “heart cold” ,they clearly come from sensations because they are the properties of the sensations which possess them in the states of non-emotion, too.

    The affects in emotions,they should be the remainder in various emotions when all sensations were removed. In the emotions, obviously, besides those sensations there are also the subjective experience of pleasure or displeasure and the corresponding mental state of like ro dislike that are prevalent for all emotions. And they are what we can not find in the sensations that occur alone in the state of non-emotion. So they should be the mental entities of affect. And they are the essential component of emotion because they are prevalent for all kinds of emotions. In neural basis, some structures in limbic system that are known as closely linked to emotions such as amygdala, hypothalamus and so on or part of them,might be the neural bases of affect. It has been known that these neural structures receives inputs from all kinds of receptor and different areas of the brain,and it is diffuse that their projections of cortex. So the affect has no special receptors, special neural pathway and special cortical areas. It has been found that the subjective natures of emotion (pleasure or displeasure) have specific neurochemical bases,and it is demonstrated that the increase or decrease of dopamine content in the brain are related respectively to the feelings of pleasure or displeasure. Likewise, the neurochemical bases are probably also belong to affect. If considering the neural basis of affect is ancient and non-specific (the specifity of neurochemical bases only embody in pleasure or displeasure),and considering the sensations play an important role in the distinctive feature of emotions,the mental entity of affect may be only the simpler feeling of pleasure or displeasure that undifferentiated and has different intensities ( similar to Leventhal’s “just a simple negative or positive affect”). And the mental states of like ro dislike may be inherent in the feelings of pleasure and displeasure. That is, it can be said that the mental entity of affect is the kind of general diffusibity feeling which having only the two features of nonspecific pleasure and displeasure and their intensities, as well as the mental state of like /enjoy (the mental tendency of wish to keep it )ro dislike/repulsion(the mental tendency of wish to abate it ) that we can experience them in any emotions.

    In summary,there are many kinds of sensations that often shows up in emotions. They can reflects the various objective features of body and external objects respectively. Their own have no the subjective nature of pleasure or displeasure. And they can not only involve in emotions but also be separate from emotions. The affect is prevalent for emotions, it has only the two mental entities of pleasure and displeasure — pleasant affect and unpleasant affect — that different intensities, and is accompanied by the mental states of like ro dislike respectively,but does not reflect any objective features of objects. That is,the sensation has only the objective features but has no subjective natures; the affect has only the subjective natures but has no objective features. So, if emotion is made up of the two different mental entities of sensation and affect by reason of they are activated simultaneously or in succession, it is inevitable that it will makes the affect as if has the objective features and makes the sensation as if has the subjective natures. In particular, because of the affect itself has no the objective feature of source or location(as its opposite, by sensations, we can feel a object is lying on a part of our body, or a color belongs to an object before our eyes,etc), the mental entity of affect will be appended to sensations when it is combined with sensations to form a emotion. That is, it turns the pleasure or displeasure that our feeling of affect and their intensity translate into the sensations which heve the features of source and location, and it turns our mental states of like ro dislike for our affect into our like ro dislike for the objects of our sensations from body and outside, and it is indistinguishable in our consciousness just as we are unaware of the visual texture actually comes from our sense of touch. That is the psychologic phenomena of affect objectified. On the other hand,the sensations(particular the body sensations) that in different forms of assembling in emotion also make their mental features are appended to the feeling of affect, it makes the simple affect that have only two mental properties of pleasure or displeasure as if has a diversity,thus forming all sorts of emotions. For instance, those sensations result from body changes such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate and so on which may be caused by the motivation of hide or run away and other factors,as a result of they are always, in a form of assembling fixed basically, integrate with both of the perception of a particular type of situation and an unpleasant affect that produced by the perception, these sensations have become part of the unique mental configuration of the emotion of fear, and make the simple unpleasant affect as if has a distinguishable feature.

    As for the motivations that embody in many emotions, because of they have a directivity that targets a specific object(this is relate to sensation), as well as they are under the control of the mental state of like ro dislike (this is related to affect), they should be the mutual products of sensation and affect when they have integrated. And the motivations may rely on past experiences. If motivation is the organized drive, the mental states of like ro dislike in emotions are this drive. It is generally acknowledged that the sensations reflect the objective features of body and outside objects, and the essential function of emotion reflects the organism’s inherent needs. In reality, the essential function of emotion should be only belong to affect that as the essential component of emotion; and the happen-evolution of sensations are serve for the affect. It may be because of the combination of affect and sensation, enable maki connections between our inherent needs and objective things, thus can forming the specific motivation by experience. A simple fear, for example, its mental component including,first,a sensation of present object and a strong unpleasant affect,their combination makes the mantal state of affect that dislike/rejection transfer(or ascribe) to the sensation of object, thus forms the motivation of shun the object. That is, in particular emotions, the general affect provides a mental state of like ro dislike(drive) and its intensity,the specific sensations provide the features of sources in body or outside object (direction), the combination of the two forming a behavioral motivation. So the adaptive function of emotions, in essence, in the mental state of like or dislike that are inherent in the affect component of emotions.



    [2] Damasio, A. R. (1994) Descartes' Error: emotion, reason, and the human brain. Translator:Caifeng Mao. Beijing:Education & Science Press.

    [3] Damasio,A.R.(1989)Time-locked multiregional retroactivation:A systems level proposal for the neural substrates of recall and recognition.Cognition,33:25-62.

    [4]Strongman,K.T.(2003) The Psychology Of Emotion: From Everyday Life To Theory 5th ed Translator:Li Wang. Beijing:China Light Industry Press.

    [5] Victor S.Johnston.(2000)Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions. Translator: Saiqi Wong,etc. Shanghai: Science and Technology Press.

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