Getting emotional about cognitive science

The Boston Globe has a well-researched article on how emotion has become increasingly important in scientific models of the mind.

Only two decades ago, cognitive psychology rarely discussed emotion and was largely about the supposedly ‘cold’ computational aspects of mind: memory, attention, problem solving, language and so on.

It is now being recognised that emotion plays an important role in all of these aspects of mental life, largely because of developments in neuroscience.

This new science of emotion has brought a new conception of what it means to think, and, in some sense, a rediscovery of the unconscious. In the five decades since the cognitive revolution began, scientists have developed ways of measuring the brain that could not have been imagined at the time. Researchers can make maps of the brain at work, and literally monitor emotions as they unfold, measuring the interplay of feeling and thinking in colorful snapshots. Although we aren’t aware of this mental activity — much of it occurs unconsciously — it plays a crucial role in governing all aspects of thought. The black box of the mind has been flung wide open.

As an aside, the author of the piece is science writer Jonah Lehrer, who also writes neuroscience blog Frontal Cortex.

Link to Boston Globe article ‘Hearts and Minds’.

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