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The Vulcanization of the Human Brain: A Neural Perspective on Interactions Between Cognition and Emotion

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  • Jonathan D. Cohen

Abstract

Emotions may explain inconsistencies in human behavior and forms of behavior that some have deemed irrational, though such behavior may seem more sensible after a discussion of the functions that emotions serve—or may have once served in our evolutionary past. People do have the capacity to override emotional responses. This capacity relies in large measure on the most recently evolved parts of our brains that support forms of behavior that are more recognizably rational. Neuroscientists are beginning to make headway in identifying the neural mechanisms involved in both emotional responses and higher cognitive processes. Among the most recent and exciting developments in neuroscience has been the introduction of methods for imaging the function of the intact human brain. This effort offers the promise of a deeper understanding of how and why emotions impact decision making, how this may contribute to behavior that appears to deviate from optimality, and how and when we are able to overcome such emotional responses.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan D. Cohen, 2005. "The Vulcanization of the Human Brain: A Neural Perspective on Interactions Between Cognition and Emotion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:19:y:2005:i:4:p:3-24
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533005775196750
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