Until I began blogging about the brain, it never occurred to me to think rationally about emotions as a chemical response to an external stimulus. Rather, emotions were a heartfelt, for better or worse, feel-it-in-your gut experience. Now I know that the amygdala plays a huge role in monitoring emotions.

I think of the amygdala and its cohorts, the hippocampus and hypothalamus, as gatekeepers to emotional stability. You may recall that the hippocampus handles factual information, while the hypothalamus monitors how your body is doing internally and directs the pituitary gland to release hormones on the basis of functions such as body temperature, appetite, and sexual functioning; this last function surely a cause for many emotions.

sm-emotions.pngThe purpose of this next activity is twofold. The first is to bring home the role of emotions in a person’s ability to focus, concentrate and function. The second is to highlight that not everyone learns best from reading text. While the words (see the full size text here) convey more information, the movie Emotions in the brain, from The Secret Life of the Brain makes the point quite visually. Which works best for you?

This is the eleventh of about twenty or fewer posts, and for further information about this series please read Closings and Openings. As you follow the development of this activity, please feel free to chime in with suggestions or questions!


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