Emotions and the Brain

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sharon Begley, science journalist at Reuters and Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who co-wrote The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them, talk about their discoveries about emotions and the brain and the implications for treatment.

The six elements that comprise your emotional style.

Resilience: how slowly or quickly you recover from adversity

Outlook: how long you are able to sustain positive emotion

Social Intuition:  how adept you are at picking up social signals from the people around you

Self Awareness: How well you perceive bodily feelings that reflect emotions

Sensitivity to Context:  how good are you at regulating your emotional responses to take into account the social context you find yourself in

Attention: how sharp and clear your focus is


Richard J. Davidson

Comments [9]

Tom from Berlin

Great segment!

Quibble: my ears perked up quite a bit when the first caller described her brother as being high on the "social intuition" scale, but low and "resilience" and herself as the opposite. This captured the main question that was swirling around in my own mind -- I have personally seen exactly this apparent trade-off a number of times (and others have commented in the same direction, here). Dr. Davidson's "no apparent correlation in studies" was quite disappointing -- I can only imagine that either the definitions those of us noticing the pattern are using versus those used in the research are quite different -- or, there is some common error in the "common sense" perceptions of what is going on that is refuted by the science. Either would have been interesting to explore, but it was quite disappointing to have the topic so quickly simply dismissed.

Is there any chance for a follow-up on this point? (Will the authors be reading these comments, for example?)

Thanks, again, for an interesting segment.

Mar. 10 2012 06:08 AM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

Hi, There are things, events, in life that one can never recover from. it is very useful to be able to know what people really feel. A person can tell us, for instance, they like us, but their behavior/body language says no, I don't like you. There are emotions that cannot be hidden no matter how hard one tries. Eugenia Renskoff

Mar. 05 2012 05:05 PM
Brenda Silver

Very interesting program. Mr. Davidson mentionned that he practices Buddhist Meditation. Where can I get more information about this form of meditation and where to access it in Manhattan.

Mar. 05 2012 12:02 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

Well, I can absolutely see a connection between social intuition and resilience: Perhaps those with high social intuition are also very "sensitive", take setbacks harder, making recovery/ resiliency harder?

Mar. 05 2012 11:48 AM
Deborah Ruffins from Queens

Have the speakers looked at or connected with the research the Dalai Lama is doing with neuro and other scientists?

Mar. 05 2012 11:35 AM
Dee from Connecticut

Is there any research on whether Prozac affects resiliency'or emotional outlook?

Mar. 05 2012 11:28 AM
carolita from nyc

I've observed that one can change the way one things with enough time and effort. I used to have very obsessive thoughts, and found them crippling. So one day, during a painful breakup, I decided that whenever I found myself obsessing, I'd go play a very difficult piece I was learning on the piano. (The first Goldberg Variation). (I'm not a professional musician, or even a good one, BTW). I was lucky at the time because I was a student with a part time job and had two pianos belonging to my boss and an electric keyboard at my disposal. I made the most of them.

After a few months of this technique, I'd broken myself of the obsessive thought habit. It wasn't easy, and people thought I was a little nuts, but I am quite sure that using my brain to actually learn something (and not just something, but something beautiful and requiring some appreciation of its beauty and intricacy) instead of allowing myself to be consumed by repetitive thoughts changed my brain and as a consequence, changed the way I live my life.

Mar. 05 2012 11:24 AM
Tema Fishbein

What are the implications of this research on early learning--how can parents help children build resiliency/

Mar. 05 2012 11:18 AM
Diane from Somerset

I am able to come back from adversity, even substantial adversity, in the long term. However, in the short term, I have hair trigger responses to even the most minor adversity. Where is the disconnect?

Mar. 05 2012 11:17 AM

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