Fausto Caruana, Vittorio Gallese

Feeling, expressing, understanding emotions: a new neuroscientific perspective

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: emotions, insula, mirror neurons, embodied simulation.

The feeling of emotions is classically considered as a particular type of perception in which emotions are felt by integrating exteroceptive and interoceptive signals. Recently, this classic view has been updated by neuroscientific data suggesting that a putative sensory area of the cerebral cortex is involved in high order re-representation of bodily states, necessary to emotional feelings. According to this view the understanding of others' emotions is achieved by means of an indirect inference from the expression of emotion to its possible cause; the expression of emotion is, in turn, a second, independent step in which the felt emotion is expressed in some particular gesture. In this paper we discuss three issues that challenge this view on the feeling of one's own and others' emotions. First, we discuss the problems related with the «sensory view» of emotions. Second, we demonstrate that the feeling of emotions involves also a motor component. In particular, we propose that the expression of emotions does not follow the emotion, but is part of the emotion itself. Third, we conclude that by observing the expression of others' emotions we directly connect with their meaning, by mirroring others' emotional behavior with our own emotional motor and viscero-motor neural representations.

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