View by:  Subject  Theme  Question  Term  Person  Event

LeDoux, Joseph E. “Emotions: How I’ve Looked for Them in the Brain."

Joseph E. LeDoux specializes in the use of animal models for studying emotion. In “Emotions: How I’ve Looked for Them in the Brain,” LeDoux describes his work on fear conditioning in rats. The rats are conditioned to associate a sound with a noxious stimulus. This sound then elicits the behavioral responses accompanying the emotional experience of fear: muscle tension, release of stress hormones, and so forth. Note that LeDoux distinguishes between the behavioral system and subjective feelings. It is the former, he argues, that should be seen as essential to understanding the function of emotions.

LeDoux uses a variety of techniques to relate fear behavior to specific circuits in the brain. First, lesion studies (selective damage to parts of the brain) and brain imaging techniques make it possible to locate the general regions involved. Next the circuits activated in fear responses can be followed by injecting tracer substances into those areas and recording the “firing patterns” of neurons in relation to various emotional states under a variety of learning paradigms. In this way, LeDoux has confirmed the crucial role of the amygdala, a distinctive cluster of neurons found deep in the anterior temporal lobe of each hemisphere. Inputs to the amygdala from sensory processes in the thalamus and cortex are key to processing fear stimuli, while projections from the amygdala to brainstem areas are involved in control of the behavioral, autonomic, and hormonal responses that constitute fear behavior. LeDoux notes that a variety of other brain systems are also involved in the various feeling states we term “emotions” in humans; only empirical research will show whether his work on fear generalizes to other emotions.

Email link | Printer-friendly | Feedback | Contributed by: CTNS/Vatican Observatory

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.