What happens in our brains to make us feel fear, love, hate, anger, joy? Do we control our emotions, or do they control us? Do animals have emotions? How can traumatic experiences in early childhood influence adult behavior, even though we have no conscious memory of them? In The Emotional Brain, Joseph LeDoux investigates the origins of human emotions and explains that many exist as part of complex neural systems that evolved to enable us to survive.
One of the principal researchers profiled in Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, LeDoux is a leading authority in the field of neural science. In this provocative book, he explores the brain mechanisms underlying our emotions -- mechanisms that are only now being revealed.
Brain researcher LeDoux believes that emotions evolved from bodily and behavioral responses controlled by the brain as a means to help our remote ancestors survive a hostile environment. The emotional states we subjectively experience, in this theory, are the end result of information processing that occurs unconsciously as the brain decodes the significance of stimuli in order to shape appropriate behavior. In this intriguing report, LeDoux, a professor at New York University, draws heavily on his own research into the brain's "fear system," which suggests that unconscious fear-related memories imprinted on the brain can result in deep-rooted neurotic anxiety, phobias, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive disorders. He also reviews studies indicating that multiple memory systems exist in the brain, including one for "emotional memories," which helps to explain the course of Alzheimer's disease as well as adults' inability to remember early childhood experiences. Research cited here suggests that behavior therapy may actually rewire the brain's pathways. LeDoux's lively, heavily annotated text is amplified by numerous photos and drawings. Newbridge Library of Science main selection.