Emotion & Cognition
A general notion implies that emotions were evolved in order to generate adaptive behavior, to motivate behavior, and to enable selection between relevant and irrelevant stimuli. In this context, emotions could clearly influence cognition. Over the last several years there has been a growing interest in how salient, emotional and socially-relevant stimuli affect cognitive processing in general and in particular, how they affect visual perception. Moreover, with the evolvement of the field of affective neuroscience, there is also much focus on how such effects come about at the neural level.
These questions are important because they pertain to fundamental issues such as how a biological ‘value’ is assigned by an animal (in particular humans) to stimuli in its environment: which stimuli are positive or negative; which should be approached and which should be avoided. They are also of great interest from the neural point of view as they are pertinent to issues such as whether there is a specialized way of, or even dedicated neural substrates for, processing affective stimuli and the possible interactions between such systems and cognitive, perceptual mechanisms.
Our research focuses on uncovering the behavioral, physiological and neural mechanisms underlying this possible interplay between perception and emotion.
Amygdala activation in response to faces (upper).
Illustration of physiological markers as measured in our lab (lower)