WEB OF EMOTIONS

A Project Encephalon & The Science Paradox Collaboration article


Abstract


Web of Emotions, as the title suggests, is an article simplifying the complicated web of the neural process behind the emotional aspect of a human being. Everyday instances, as well as hypothetical scenarios, are used to explain to the reader the origin of emotions and how they come into play in our very survival. A learning point of this article is to let emotions guide us to become who we are as an individual as well as a community as a whole.

 


Have you ever heard someone say, “That a person doesn’t think before speaking” or “That person is too emotionally wrapped up to think rationally”?


What are these emotions? What are feelings? What are different emotions? Is it just happiness, sadness, anger or fear or are there many other complex emotions that come to play?


Have you ever wondered why you hate cats and love dogs so much or vice-versa? Why do you feel sick in the pit of the stomach before writing an exam, or have tears in your eyes while listening to a sad song, or even laugh while watching your favorite comedian in action? In essence, how does your body know which emotions to feel, when to feel them and why? And this is exactly the topic that we will explore in this article.


To help understand this topic better let's first understand what emotions are.


In a crude way of explaining, emotions define us, make us stand out from each other (and AI!), shape our opinions and help us communicate and most importantly, understand each other.


There are two types- simple and complex, complex ones originating from the simple to state the obvious. To name a few-

Simple- happy, sad, anger, fear

Complex- jealousy, anxiousness, confused.

(Fun fact-Did you know that we have more unpleasant emotions in our hardware than pleasant ones?)


Now the question arises as to how these complex feelings come together to create us as individuals. On conducting a random survey, some people responded, saying that feelings come from the heart, others said they come from the brain, or they come from experiences and some even said they come from hormones. This wide range of opinions gave me the idea to write this article so that everyone could get a better understanding of what makes me love chocolate cake more than red velvet! Or in other words where do these emotions come from?


The major system that creates these emotions in our body is the limbic system. It controls the autonomic nervous system as well as the endocrine system to produce hormones that control these emotions.


The limbic system consists of 4 major structures that work together to express emotions-

  1. Thalamus- relays all senses, except smell

  2. Hippocampus- memory system (that can evoke emotions)

  3. Amygdala- if stimulated produces aggressive emotions (anger, violence, fear and anxiety)

  4. Hypothalamus-regulates ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) and endocrine system (adrenaline and norepinephrine).