Grounding emotion in situated conceptualization

Emory University, USA.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 12/2010; 49(5):1105-27. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.12.032
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT According to the Conceptual Act Theory of Emotion, the situated conceptualization used to construe a situation determines the emotion experienced. A neuroimaging experiment tested two core hypotheses of this theory: (1) different situated conceptualizations produce different forms of the same emotion in different situations, (2) the composition of a situated conceptualization emerges from shared multimodal circuitry distributed across the brain that produces emotional states generally. To test these hypotheses, the situation in which participants experienced an emotion was manipulated. On each trial, participants immersed themselves in a physical danger or social evaluation situation and then experienced fear or anger. According to Hypothesis 1, the brain activations for the same emotion should differ as a function of the preceding situation (after removing activations that arose while constructing the situation). According to Hypothesis 2, the critical activations should reflect conceptual processing relevant to the emotion in the current situation, drawn from shared multimodal circuitry underlying emotion. The results supported these predictions and demonstrated the compositional process that produces situated conceptualizations dynamically.

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Available from: William Kyle Simmons, Sep 26, 2015
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    • "We refer to the process of using knowledge to make meaning of sensations as situated conceptualization , because the concept knowledge accessed to make meaning of sensations is highly situated and dependent on the present context. Situated conceptualization is a relatively auto- matic 1 process (Wilson-Mendenhall et al., 2011; Barrett, 2014) and operates in a probabilistic manner (Barrett et al., 2007b; Clark, 2013), making predictions about the meaning of sensations (e.g., a beating heart, sweaty palms) given the features of the present context (e.g., giving a speech), prior experiences of other contexts in which similar sensations have occurred (e.g., past experiences of giving speeches vs. past experiences of watching scary movies vs. experiences of standing atop a tall balcony), and culturally relative knowledge about the types of experiences that involve certain sensations (e.g., knowledge about fear vs. excitement). "
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    ABSTRACT: Common sense suggests that emotions are physical types that have little to do with the words we use to label them. Yet recent psychological constructionist accounts reveal that language is a fundamental element in emotion that is constitutive of both emotion experiences and perceptions. According to the psychological constructionist Conceptual Act Theory, an instance of emotion occurs when information from one’s body or other people’s bodies is made meaningful in light of the present situation using concept knowledge about emotion. The CAT suggests that language plays a role in emotion because language supports the conceptual knowledge used to make meaning of sensations from the body and world in a given context. In the present paper, we review evidence from developmental and cognitive science to reveal that language scaffolds concept knowledge in humans, helping humans to acquire abstract concepts such as emotion categories across the lifespan. Critically, language later helps individuals use concepts to make meaning of on-going sensory perceptions. Building on this evidence, we outline predictions from a psychological constructionist model of emotion in which language serves as the “glue” for emotion concept knowledge, binding concepts to embodied experiences and in turn shaping the ongoing processing of sensory information from the body and world to create emotional experiences and perceptions.
    Frontiers in Psychology 04/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00444 · 2.80 Impact Factor
    • "In several experiments by Wilson-Mendenhall and colleagues comparing effects of dimensional and discrete emotion classifications on neural organization, participants listened to detailed and vivid descriptions of events designed to induce particular emotion states in training sessions, and to shorter core versions containing the central components of the full scenarios when in the scanner; they were trained to reinstate the full detailed scenario in their imaginations when listening to the core versions in the scanner. (Wilson-Mendenhall et al. 2011, 2013). Their findings showed neural activity in predicted brain regions correlated with ratings of subjective valence and arousal, across as well as within the emotion categories targeted by the scenarios. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper outlines the process of verbal communication of emotion as this occurs through the phases of the referential process, including arousal of an emotion schema; detailed and specific descriptions of images and episodes that are exemplars of emotion schemas; and reflection and reorganization, which may include emotion labels and other types of categorical terms. The concepts of emotion schemas and the referential process are defined in the theoretical framework of multiple code theory which includes subsymbolic sensory, visceral and motoric processes, symbolic images and words. Emotion schemas are defined as clusters of representations of events incorporating similar bodily, sensory and motoric processes activated in relation to different people in different contexts. Through the referential process subsymbolic components of a schema that have been activated in a speaker or writer and that may be connected only partially to words may be evoked in a listener or reader. The concept of the emotion schemas is examined in relation to current work in emotion theory and neuroscience. The unique effects of detailed descriptions of episodes in conveying complex aspects of emotional experience are discussed, as recognized by writers, and as demonstrated in empirical research. Computerized measures of the phases of the referential process are presented, focusing particularly on the central measure, the Weighted Referential Activity Dictionary (WRAD) which identifies points of narrative and imagery. The operation of the function words that dominate the WRAD are examined in relation to the structure of narrative expression underlying the verbal representation of emotion schemas.
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11097-015-9417-z
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    • "Sperber limits himself to the suggestion that evocation is triggered by the insufficiency or irrelevance of the result of a regular, process based on invocation, I propose instead that this process depends on the attribution of a specific informative intention, as has been outlined above (Longhitano 2014: 80-86). I characterize the role of non-propositional information in expressive discourse interpretation: sensations and emotions that are not passively retrieved from memory but constructed on-line, as a result of a process of creative imagination (Thomas 2010, Barsalou et al. 2003, Wilson-Mendenhall et al. 2011). In expressive discourse interpretation, a general cognitive disposition -creative imagination-is applied to a particular object: a discourse/ text. "
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    ABSTRACT: The notion of literature or poetry is based on the intuition that there is a qualitative difference between “literary” and other kinds of discourses. Only recently have philosophers of language and pragmaticists begun to acknowledge this qualitative difference.
    Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 12/2014; 158:187-193. DOI:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.12.068
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