How Does The Brain Work
The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body. Different signals control different processes, and your brain interprets each. Some make you feel tired, for example, while others make you feel pain.
Some messages are kept within the brain, while others are relayed through the spine and across the bodys vast network of nerves to distant extremities. To do this, the central nervous system relies on billions of neurons .
What Does The Brain Look Like While Processing And Regulating Emotions
Now, in the first section, you learned about feelings, which scientists call emotions. You heard that emotions can lead to a reaction in your body. You also know that sometimes we experience several emotions at once and that sometimes it is necessary to control a feeling and not to act on it. This process is called emotion regulation. In the second section, you learned how an MRI camera works and how it can be used to take images of the structure and function of the brain. In the next section, we want to combine these two things and talk about the parts of the brain that are responsible for processing and regulating emotion.
- Figure 3 – The emotion processing network includes several areas of the brain.
- Some of these areas are shown here shaded in blue and you can see their different jobs: the amygdala recognizes and sorts the emotions before transporting them to other areas. In the picture, this transportation is visualized by a train driving along the dotted track line to the most frontal part of the brain. Once the information arrives there, the prefrontal cortex and the cingulate cortex act as a control center , deciding what has to be done next with the incoming emotions. Many areas work together to process an emotion! .
This Is How The Brain Shapes Our Emotions And Moods
The brain is key to our existence, but theres a long way to go before neuroscience can truly capture its staggering capacity. For now, though, our Brain Control series explores what we do know about the brains command of six central functions: language, mood, memory, vision, personality and motor skills and what happens when things go wrong.
Somebody woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning. You know that comment the one that rarely makes you feel any more gracious towards the world . At other times you might feel particularly gracious and sunny, for no reason at all.
Our mood is a transient frame of mind that influences how we think and view the world. It is influenced by events in our lives, the amount of sleep we get, hormones, even the weather. But what role does the brain play in shaping our mood?
The limbic system
Many regions fundamental to mood are buried deep in the most primordial parts of the brain that is, they are thought to have been among the first to develop in the human species. This is probably because mood is evolutionarily important.
Being glum can be advantageous and has been shown to sharpen our eye for detail, for instance. But, overall, the brain seems geared towards maintaining a mildly positive frame of mind. Being in a good mood makes us more likely to seek new experiences, be creative, plan ahead, procreate and adapt to changing conditions.
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The Cerebral Cortex Creates Consciousness And Thinking
All animals have adapted to their environments by developing abilities that help them survive. Some animals have hard shells, others run extremely fast, and some have acute hearing. Human beings do not have any of these particular characteristics, but we do have one big advantage over other animals we are very, very smart.
You might think that we should be able to determine the intelligence of an animal by looking at the ratio of the animals brain weight to the weight of its entire body. But this does not really work. The elephants brain is one-thousandth of its weight, but the whales brain is only one ten-thousandth of its body weight. On the other hand, although the human brain is one-sixtieth of its body weight, the mouses brain represents one-fortieth of its body weight. Despite these comparisons, elephants do not seem 10 times smarter than whales, and humans definitely seem smarter than mice.
Why Do The Nervous And Endocrine Systems Allow Us To Regulate Our Emotions
The nervous and endocrine systems allow us to regulate our emotions because they are two systems that are in charge of controlling the different glands that secrete substances that modify our state of mind, thus generating different emotions.
In this article we answered the question What Part Of The Brain Controls Emotions? We explained what emotions are and how the brain intervenes in their formation and interpretation.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know!
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How Downstairs Brain And The Upstairs Brain
Lets have another look at the emotional, downstairs brain and the rational, upstairs brain. The downstairs brain is the part of our brain that makes us act without thinking. It has to do this quickly for survival purposes if you are in a life threatening situation you dont have time to sit down and draw up a plan of action, you just need to act! Developmentally, this part of the brain is well developed at birth and forms more connections earlier than the upstairs brain because it is responsible for essential tasks such as making sure our needs are met, feeling strong emotions, using instinct to keep us safe, and managing bodily functions.
The upstairs, rational brain whilst structurally all there is much slower in its development of connections. This part of the brain is highly sophisticated and responsible for problem solving, rational thinking, logic, planning and decision making, organisation, and self-control. All of these things are learnt through repeated experiences. Keeping to the house analogy, the upstairs, rational brain is under major construction for the first few years of life. During adolescence, the upstairs brain gets a remodelling which takes several more years. So the upstairs brain is not fully mature until the mid-twenties!!!!
What Part Of The Brain Controls Mood
The limbic system is the area of the brain that directs our emotions and mood.
From time immemorial we have blamed the heart for our deepest feelings, holding the brain responsible for the most sensible and judicious decisions. Well, its time to make amends for this terrible mistake. The truth is that the brain is the organ that is behind all our emotions, through the famous limbic system.
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What Part Of The Brain Controls Moods And Emotional Behavior
A limbic system is a group of interconnected structures found deep inside the brain. Its the aspect of the brain that is liable for social and behavioral reactions.
Researchers havent agreed about the full rundown of structures that make up the limbic system, yet the accompanying structures are commonly acknowledged as a component of the group:
Apart from controlling emotional reactions, the hypothalamus is likewise associated with sexual reactions, hormone release, and controlling body temperature.
The hippocampus helps save and recover memories. It likewise assumes a part by the way you comprehend the spatial elements of your environment.
The amygdala helps coordinate the responses to things in your current circumstance, particularly those that trigger an emotional reaction. This structure assumes a significant function in dread and outrage.
This part contains two structures, the cingulate gyrus, and the parahippocampal gyrus. Together, they sway the state of the brain, inspiration, and judgment.
Disorders Involving The Amygdala
There are several neurological disorders associated with damage to the amygdala. One, as discussed above, is Kluver-Bucy syndrome. Kluver-Bucy syndrome is rare in humans, but can occur after brain trauma, neurodegenerative disease, or an infection that reaches the brain. The symptoms vary from case to case, but might include placidity, an irresistible urge to put various objects in the mouth , and an uncontrollable appetite.
Urbach-Wiethe disease is a rare genetic disorder that can cause calcification of brain tissue in the temporal lobes this calcification can cause damage to the amygdalae. While Urbach-Wiethe disease is an exceedingly rare condition, it is thought to be the cause of amygdala damage in one of the best-known medical cases alive today: SM. SM, who is only known by her initials to protect her anonymity, has a well-documented inability to experience fear. Over the past several decades, researchers have put SM into a variety of experimental conditions designed to elicit fear. Only oneforcing her to breathe air that was about 35% carbon dioxide led to a fearful reaction from SM. SM has Urbach-Wiethe disease, and it has caused severe damage to her amygdalae. Because of her inability to experience most types of fear coupled with her amygdala damage, SM is commonly used as an demonstration of the important role the amygdala plays in fear.
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Prefrontal Cortex And Sensitive Periods
This complex neurobiological interstate takes years to reach maturity. It is often the case that slow developing systems are highly susceptible to environmental pressures that is, they exhibit a high degree of plasticity. In a given neural systems development, there is a moment when it is particularly sensitive to the environmenta so-called sensitive period. The brain undergoes multiple sensitive periods, a different one for each neural circuit, and taken together such intervals span development. Sensitive periods, and their less-forgiving cousins, critical periods, have been studied more often in perceptual systems than in emotion regulation. Thus, we will illustrate the properties of sensitive periods with an example from vision development. Then we will discuss how these principles may apply to emotion regulation.
The Nobel prize-winning work of Hubel and Wiesel15 demonstrated that a window of heightened brain plasticity opens in the early days of a cats visual system during this window, environmental input leaves an enduring influence on the visual cortex and associated visual behavior that is impossible to reverse once the critical period terminates. That is, once the window of heightened plasticity closes , the developing system is no longer modifiable by light.
May The Force Be With You
To summarize, emotions are feelings that are processed by a team of brain regions. Emotion processing is a complicated process, which sometimes does not work so well. Difficulties with emotion processing and regulation are found in children and teenagers with very aggressive and antisocial behavior. Using structural and functional neuroimaging techniques, we showed that areas of the emotion processing network of the brain are different in the youths with aggressive behavior. Luckily, the brain has the ability to change and adapt, especially when people are still young. The more we know about how our brain develops and how it processes and regulates emotions, the more we can help children with emotion processing problems. This knowledge also helps doctors to choose the most helpful treatment for these children. For example, if we know that a child struggles with recognizing an emotion, then that is what we teach them to practice. Or if we see that a child cannot control his emotions, we teach him ways to do so. In the end, we want to understand and teach others how to deal with feelings of anger, fear, and aggression in a good way. We hope that we can help those children struggling with their emotions and bring all of us a little closer to the Jedi in us.
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Brain Chemicals Dictate Your Mood
Your brain is a complex network that processes vast quantities of information every second. Part of the brain’s information-processing network includes neurons, or cells that transmit signals throughout the brain. Neurons send signals through neurotransmitters, which are chemicals some release and others receive. These chemicals essentially let the parts of the brain communicate with each other.
The three most commonly studied neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Dopamine is related to experiences of pleasure and the reward-learning process. In other words, when you do something good, you’re rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable, happy feeling. This teaches your brain to want to do it again and again. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning. Researchers believe it plays a part in the regeneration of brain cells, which has been linked to easing depression. An imbalance in serotonin levels results in an increase in anger, anxiety, depression and panic . Norepinephrine helps moderate your mood by controlling stress and anxiety.
Which Part Of The Brain Controls Fear
The emotion of fear is an evolutionary response that helps us to survive. While most of us are no longer living in the wild we still need to feel fear to keep ourselves safe. Fear triggers a chain reaction and involves multiple parts of the brain.
First of all, your thalamus uses sensory data to pick up on what you are witnessing/experiencing. This then passes through the sensory cortex which interprets the data and your hippocampus draws on memories to establish the context and how the body needs to react. Your amygdala then decodes these emotions and establishes whether a threat has occurred, this then stimulates the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus then triggers what many of us know as the fight or flight response. When you feel fear, you will often find that you have a physical reaction. This could be your hair standing on end and your heart pumping in your chest. This is triggered by the hypothalamus and gets you ready to react.
Substructures Of The Limbic System
There are two hippocampi, located in each hemisphere of the brain. They are seahorse-shaped and are structures mainly associated as being the memory centres of our brains.
Episodic memories are formed in the hippocampus and then filed away into long-term storage throughout other parts of the cerebral cortex.
The hippocampus always plays a role in spatial navigation and has also been associated with learning and emotions .
The hippocampus is also known as a site where neurogenesis occurs â this means that new nerve cells are made here from adult stem cells.
Due to the hippocampusâs involvement in memory, damage to this area can lead to severe memory impairments.
Damage can also be detrimental to spatial memory, for instance, remembering directions to locations that should be familiar to the individual.
The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure, located right next to the hippocampus. The main function of the amygdala is in emotional responses, including feelings of happiness, fear, anger, and anxiety.
This area is also key for the formation of new memories. The amygdala interacts with the hippocampus by attaching emotional content to memories.
It has a role in how memorable memories can be â memories that have strong emotional components tend to stick, rather than those with little emotional content.âFear learningâ is also an element of the amygdala.
The hypothalamusâ most basic function is in homeostasis .
Areas Of The Brain Involved In Control Of Emotion
-By Timothy Lyons
It seems that one way that emotions are controlled in areas of the brain involved in Control of emotion is through extinction of emotional responses. From the ventral medial prefrontal cortex has an inhibitory action on the amygdala. This has some relationship to the fact that as the learner begins to differentiate between moments that need the emotional response and moments that do not the emotion no longer appears. The evidence for this is in the conditioning of the emotional responses of fear in mice paired with the sound of a bell combined with a fear provoking situation. The sound of the bell is given several times without the fear involving situation and the mouse no longer responds to the bell with the emotion of fear.
Another area of emotional control is the bodys production of hormones. This can affect emotional responses which result in aggression. The production of certain compounds such as additional serotonins are linked with reduced risk taking behaviors that might be as a result of emotions .
A large role in emotion regulation comes from the areas of the brain involved in Control of emotion that is the prefrontal cortex . There have been studies that show when certain medications are administered that promote activity in this area of the brain, there is greater emotional control. This is done through the PFCs ability to make humans understand and learn the possible negative consequences of their reactions to charged emotional situations .
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The Role Of The Thalamus In The Emotional Brain
The thalamus is another region of the brain implicated in the limbic system this structure is found at the heart of the forebrain and is responsible for emotion processing, such as fear, sadness, disgust, happiness, and pleasure. The thalamus plays an essential role in sensory processing all sensory input, other than olfactory information, is processed in this region of brain, hence the nickname ‘Grand Central Station’.
What Part Of The Brain Controls Happiness
Happiness refers to an overall state of well-being or satisfaction. When you feel happy, you generally have positive thoughts and feelings.
Imaging studies suggest that the happiness response originates partly in the limbic cortex. Another area called the precuneus also plays a role. The precuneus is involved in retrieving memories, maintaining your sense of self, and focusing your attention as you move about your environment.
A 2015 study found that people with larger gray matter volume in their right precuneus reported being happier. Experts think the precuneus processes certain information and converts it into feelings of happiness. For example, imagine youve spent a wonderful night out with someone you care about. Going forward, when you recall this experience and others like it, you may experience a feeling of happiness.
It may sound strange, but the beginnings of romantic love are associated with the stress response triggered by your hypothalamus. It makes more sense when you think about the nervous excitement or anxiety you feel while falling for someone.
As these feelings grow, the hypothalamus triggers release of other hormones, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin.
Dopamine is associated with your bodys reward system. This helps make love a desirable feeling.
Vasopressin is similarly produced in your hypothalamus and released by your pituitary gland. Its also involved in social bonding with a partner.
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