Brain basis of emotions

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We use neuroimaging and meta-analysis to investigate how the brain creates emotions. Our previous research has revealed that there is increased activity in a set of brain networks that support very basic psychological processes such as representing body changes, accessing and using memory and knowledge, and deploying attention during emotions. Our on-going research supported by the National Science Foundation explores how the functional dynamics of these neural networks differ within individuals across emotions (e.g., across multiple instances of fear) and between individuals from different cultural backgrounds (e.g., individuals from the US v. China). 

Language and emotion

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We use cognitive experiments, neuroimaging, self report and big data to examine how the words for emotions that a person knows and uses (e.g., "anger," "fear," "joy," "pride") alter their experiences and perceptions of emotions. Our prior work has revealed that making emotion words more or less accessible alters people's feelings, what they see in other's facial expressions and even their brain data. Our on-going research examines how children learn the meaning of emotion words and how emotion categories are represented cross-linguistically. 

Body and emotion

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We use peripheral physiology, neuroimaging, cognitive experiments and self report to examine how the state of the body alters emotional experiences. Our research has shown that "non-emotional" feelings such as hunger can intensify emotions, particularly when people are not aware this is occurring.  Our on-going research examines how the role of the body in emotion differs across the age-span and how individual differences in awareness of the body alters emotions.