Assessing Predictions from Psychological Construction Approaches to Emotion Open Access

Wilson-Mendenhall, Christine (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/6w924c269?locale=en
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Abstract

To understand the complex mental phenomena underlying affect and emotion, researchers have begun investigating the neural systems that produce these states. In an initial manuscript, we examined the theoretical view that all emotions include two core properties (among other things): valence (state of pleasure or displeasure) and arousal (state of energy and mobilization). During a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment, participants immersed themselves in imagined fear, happiness, and sadness scenarios. After the initial scenario immersion period, participants focused on and rated the valence or arousal of the felt emotion. This paradigm was designed so that neural activity during the scenario immersion event could be separated from the subsequent focus-rate event. Furthermore, the scenarios developed for each emotion category varied in valence and arousal, and also included familiar scenarios in which the valence was atypical for the category (e.g., pleasant fear of thrill-seeking) to maximize variance in valence. According to core affect views, brain regions correlating with valence or arousal ratings during the focus-rate events in our paradigm should be the same across experiences of all three emotions (fear, happiness, and sadness), and across typical vs. atypical valence. Based on previous literature, we further predicted that valence ratings would correlate with neural activity in orbitofrontal cortex and that arousal ratings would correlate with neural activity in the amygdala. The results supported our predictions, suggesting that valence and arousal are core properties of emotion experience. In a second manuscript, developed from the same experiment, we examined the emotion scenarios that had atypical valence (e.g., pleasant fear). Of primary interest was the role of large-scale brain networks that support 'default' internal socio-emotional simulation, salience detection, and task-oriented attention in processing these emotions. During scenario immersion and subsequent valence focus, more activation occurred in the default network for atypical than for typical emotion scenarios. During the subsequent valence focus period only, attention and salience networks became relatively more active for atypical emotion scenarios. Future research is necessary to understand the properties of atypical emotions (e.g., complexity, ambiguity, etc.) that underlie heightened activity in these networks when emotions are atypical.

Table of Contents

General Introduction.....................................................1

General Introduction Addendum.....................................39

Core Affect Manuscript..................................................40

Title Page....................................................................40

Abstract......................................................................41

Body...........................................................................42

References..................................................................58

Figures.......................................................................64

Appendix....................................................................66

Supplemental Materials.................................................68

Atypical Emotions Manuscript.........................................83

Title Page....................................................................83

Abstract......................................................................84

Body...........................................................................85

References..................................................................121

Tables.........................................................................129

Figures.......................................................................132

Appendix....................................................................135

General Discussion.......................................................139

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