The brain as mood ring

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 14, 2011 11:59 PM

It has long been accepted that the heart is the center of our emotions but I have always wondered about that. Maybe it’s because I tend to be more cerebral than emotional. But still, does the brain have something to do with the way we feel, as well as the way we think? I think I think so. Thinking is as much a way of emoting as emoting is a way of thinking. They’re forever intertwined in the same way that the brain and the heart are entwined by arteries and blood. Emotions feed the brain and the brain feeds emotions.

It’s a theory that’s actually supported by a number of neurosurgeons including Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. He’s written several books about how the brain generates emotion and how emotion then helps people think. His research has shown that emotions and the conscious mind are both involved in all decision making processes. He has written several books, including Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain which foreshadowed discoveries in biology and neuroscience on the mind-body problem. His latest book, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain suggests that conscious minds and feelings are the two elements of your idea of self and your actual self. The think works with the feel and vice versa.

The brain is all about influencing our decisions, and our decisions are what make us us. The brain is about thoughts and behaviors. The heart is about feelings and desires. The emotional brain is a combination of both. It tells us how to think about how we feel.

I feel hungry, so I eat. I feel thirsty and I drink. I think that someone is interesting and I feel like I’d like to get to know them better. I’m considering a new job, and I’d love to work at that company. I want to go to dinner, and I’m anxious to try the new Italian place on the corner. I wonder about going to that city for a weekend, but I’m so excited to try it. I think I’m in love and I feel my heart beating faster.

I think therefore I feel and I feel therefore I think.

When two people fall in love, their irrational unconscious brains dominate their conscious logical brain. We overlook the flaws that a logical thinking brain would have noticed, so love becomes blind. Then, after a few years of wearing glasses, love is no longer blind. Suddenly we can see because our brain takes over. And yet our heart continues to beat.

The brain involves love, lust and even sex. The heart does, too. They are hand in hand, though they function differently. The brain thinks and feels, the heart feels and thinks. We think about all of it and we feel all of it as well.

The emotion centers of the brain.

This is my brain. This is my brain on emotions. Any questions?

Well, since you ask, I feel really good about tonight so I think I’m going to go to bed happy.

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live out loud

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