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The Influence of Communication on Physiology and Health


Edited By James M. Honeycutt, Chris R. Sawyer and Shaughan Keaton

There is a significant amount of research that substantiates the connection between social support/relationships and the development, onset, and/or recovery of several physical diseases/illnesses. Research has shown, for example, that an unhappy marriage can increase the likelihood of becoming ill by 35% while stressful communication can lead to an increase in cardiovascular reactivity which in turn increases the risk of coronary heart disease and premature mortality.
This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the influences of communication on physiology and physical health status occurring in a variety of contexts, from families, interpersonal relationships, and public speaking to sport fandom, affection, fear, and the escalation of conflict. It offers a broad and up-to-date review of the relevant literature in this area of study.
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Chapter 11: Rethinking the Emotional Brain


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Chapter 11

Rethinking the Emotional Brain

Joseph LeDoux

Emotion is a major research growth area in neuroscience and psychology today. In spite of its popularity in study, emotions are not well defined in most publications and there is little consensus about what emotion is. One point that many researchers accept is that while there are unique features of human emotion, at least some aspects reflect our ancestral past. This conclusion is the basis of neurobiological approaches to emotion and animal research is essential for identifying specific circuits and mechanisms in the brain that underlie emotional occurrences. Understanding emotions in brains of laboratory animals has helped us understand emotional functions in the human brain. How can we understand this research if there is not a consensus on a definition of emotion and how emotion differs from other psychological states? At the least, it makes comparisons between species difficult.

The short answer is that we fake it. Personal experiences tell us that some mental states have a certain “feeling” associated with them and others do not. Those states that humans associate with feelings are often called emotions. The terms “emotion” and “feeling” are, in fact, often used interchangeably. In English, we have words like fear, anger, love, sadness, and jealousy for these feeling states, and when scientists study emotions in humans they ← 207 | 208 → typically use these “feeling words” as guideposts to explore the terrain of emotion. However, the wisdom of...

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