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Distinct circuits of emotions and love?

  1. Aug 5, 2015 #1
    I am curious about the concept of distinct circuits/systems of neural activity that give rise to basic emotions.

    I drew this info from the article below, which focuses specifically on "three kinds of emotions of love" by Helen Fisher (who got popular through her viral TED talk about love).

    - Are these "distinct circuits" and emotions attached to each one of them confirmed in science and is there consensus on it? And more generally, is each emotion known to be associated with a distinct and separate neural circuit?

    - Right at the beginning, the article has the words "it is hypothesized". First, I personally struggle with passive voice being used when making a point. Second, can a paper make scientific conclusions based on something that is just "hypothesized"?

    - In the following paragraphs, Fisher starts to conclude (based on something that is hypothesized?) that these separate "circuits/systems" for lust, attraction and attachment all associate with different hormones, neurotransmitters and a whole set of a different behavioral patterns. Is there actually enough data in all the references she uses to show that this is actually true? It seems that there is much more concluding than showing.

    I also struggle with the overuse of the words "suggests" and "may" when making scientific claims.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2015 #2
    Generally speaking, yes. If you take a look at the wiki article on the amygdala, for example, you will see it's generally accepted to be associated with specific emotional responses. In most cases the evidence boils down to a lack of those responses when certain structures are damaged or an intensification of them when the structures are hyperstimulated, as with an externally applied voltage or in the course of a seizure. However, I don't think it would be accurate to say every emotion has been pinned to a specific circuit. It's more like, given the success in mapping some, it is believed everything could eventually be mapped.

    There's also an obvious definition problem. Defining the word "attraction" in order to find the neural correlates of attraction is a can of worms.

    The particular paper you linked to, however, strikes me as exceptionally "soft," mostly speculation citing studies selected by confirmation bias. I think you're right to be skeptical when studies "suggest" one thing or another, or when it's "indicated" that one thing "may" be connected to another.
  4. Aug 6, 2015 #3
    Thanks zoobyshoe, that was very helpful!
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