Behavioral and Brain Sciences



Bridging emotion theory and neurobiology through dynamic systems modeling


Marc D. Lewis a1
a1 Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1V6 Canada mlewis@oise.utoronto.ca http://home.oise.utoronto.ca/~mlewis

Abstract

Efforts to bridge emotion theory with neurobiology can be facilitated by dynamic systems (DS) modeling. DS principles stipulate higher-order wholes emerging from lower-order constituents through bidirectional causal processes – offering a common language for psychological and neurobiological models. After identifying some limitations of mainstream emotion theory, I apply DS principles to emotion–cognition relations. I then present a psychological model based on this reconceptualization, identifying trigger, self-amplification, and self-stabilization phases of emotion-appraisal states, leading to consolidating traits. The article goes on to describe neural structures and functions involved in appraisal and emotion, as well as DS mechanisms of integration by which they interact. These mechanisms include nested feedback interactions, global effects of neuromodulation, vertical integration, action-monitoring, and synaptic plasticity, and they are modeled in terms of both functional integration and temporal synchronization. I end by elaborating the psychological model of emotion–appraisal states with reference to neural processes.


Key Words: appraisal; bidirectional causality; cognition; dynamic systems; emotion; neurobiology; part–whole relations; self-organization.