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Consciousness and emotion: review of Jaak Panksepp's ‘Affective Neuroscience’

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Abstract:

[opening paragraph]: Consciousness and emotion are ancient topics, both as old as culture, yet still in their scientific infancy, slowly emerging into full respectability after decades of systematic neglect by science. Despite a recent modest resurgence of interest, emotion remains perhaps the least understood subject -- relative to its importance in human life -- in the whole of neuroscience. This is probably overdetermined. It may be in part a hangover from Lange-James perspectives in which emotion was largely reduced to an epiphenomenon, a sensory-motor feedback of autonomic and other afferents, a kind of compelling but ultimately irrelevant after-image. Additionally, the explosion of cognitive neuroscience, in concert with the extensive discrediting of much of psychoanalytic thinking, has left emotion in a largely secondary role, despite a dramatic lessening of the stranglehold that behaviourism had over thinking in psychology. Cognition is very much in ascendance these days, including in consciousness circles, with some even assuming its foundations are fundamentally independent of affect, a position for which there is little evolutionary or neurological evidence

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Quincy Hospital, 114 Whitwell Street, Quincy, MA 02169, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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