May 16, 2017 (medicalxpress.com) -- How do you feel right now, in general? Pleasant or unpleasant? Crummy, calm, or jittery? Somewhere in between?
Northeastern's Lisa Feldman Barrett and her colleagues have discovered the system in the brain where those basic feelings originate.
The new findings, published last month in the journal Nature Human Behavior, could help solve mysteries regarding the tight connection between mental and physical health, including the neurological drivers behind the opioid crisis. Deciphering those mechanisms would open the door to developing more effective remedies. The findings could also revolutionize our understanding of how we make decisions, leading to more considered choices in areas ranging from the law to the economy.
"This paper really breaks down the barrier between mind and body," says Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern. "It shows that the two are not separate, that the system that is important for creating and representing feelings is also important for thinking and remembering, paying attention and decision-making, and so much more. Feelings, in other words, are part of any mental event—any action, any thought, judgment, perception, or decision. They are properties of consciousness."