Development And Evolution Of Emotion

Both the developmental and the evolutionary aspects of emotion remain important issues for further research. A large body of findings, primarily from developmental psychology, has shown that the highly differentiated sets of emotions seen in adult humans develop over an extended time course that requires extensive interactions between an infant, its parents, and its cultural environment. The importance of many of the structures discussed previously in the development of emotional behavior is underscored by findings that damage to these structures relatively early in development causes more severe impairments than damage during adulthood. Although newborns do show some relatively undifferentiated emotional responses (such as general distress), and although they have an innate predisposition to respond to emotionally salient stimuli (such as the mother's face), the subsequent development of emotion depends both on the presence of critical neural structures and, crucially, on the child's environment. As with language, humans are predisposed to have a rich and complex set of emotional processes, but the precise details require maturation and learning in a socially rich environment.

Phylogenetically, human emotion depends on the more basic sets of emotions and motivational processes that we share in common with other animals. Clearly, the neural circuitry that subserves the processing of reward and punishment must be in place before more differentiated emotions can evolve. However, higher mammals, and especially highly social mammals such as primates, did evolve additional circuitry in order to permit them to respond in a more flexible and adaptive manner to environments that change rapidly in time. The most dynamic environment of all, of course, is the social environment, and keeping track of and responding rapidly and appropriately to numerous conspecifics requires a rich repertoire of emotional regulation.

The comparative and developmental investigations of emotion raise important questions about how emotion contributes to behavior and about how emotion contributes to other aspects of cognition. A point of fundamental importance is that more complex behavior, and more complex cognition, requires more complex and differentiated emotions.

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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