Concepts dissolve artificial boundaries in the study of emotion and cognition, uniting body, brain, and mind

Cognition and Emotion 33 (1):67-76 (2018)
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Theories of emotion have often maintained artificial boundaries: for instance, that cognition and emotion are separable, and that an emotion concept is separable from the emotional events that comprise its category (e.g. “fear” is distinct from instances of fear). Over the past several years, research has dissolved these artificial boundaries, suggesting instead that conceptual construction is a domain-general process—a process by which the brain makes meaning of the world. The brain constructs emotion concepts, but also cognitions and perceptions, all in the service of guiding action. In this view, concepts are multimodal constructions, dynamically prepared from a set of highly variable instances. This approach obviates old questions (e.g. how does cognition regulate emotion?) but generates new ones (e.g. how does a brain learn emotion concepts?). In this paper, we review this constructionist, predictive coding account of emotion, considering its implications for health and well-being, culture and development.



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