Does the brain create emotions? The answer is YES!
Ground breaking research came from Candace Pert, Ph.D., who discovered that the creation of emotions is done by the neural networks that are ‘hardwired’ in the brain. This means certain ways of thinking that are or have become habitual. Based on these thoughts, the brain, specifically the Hypothalamus, produces a matching chemical (peptide) and sends this to the body so the body can experience the feeling of that specific thought, be it happiness, envy, delight, anger, pain, excitement, lack, etc.
Now, the importance of this discovery is that our fixed thinking patterns keep creating the same chemicals and therefore we keep experiencing the same emotions. But maybe more importantly, the body that receives these chemicals has become addicted to them and any imbalance results in a bodily discomfort. Basically the body starts asking for certain chemicals to restore the imbalance when it occurs by sending a signal to the brain asking for more. This ‘asking for more’ results in the brain creating a thought that produces that specific chemical and there you go, having another emotional fit.
This addiction to emotions makes it difficult to change your thinking, because when you do, the body is in lack of the chemical that you normally feed it through your thinking. On the other hand, this knowledge might take a load of your back, thinking that you are destined to be sad, depressed or in lack. Instead, you can now identify the feedback loop you have created and can at any time make the decision to change, because these emotions are not inevitable – they are simply the result of your own unconscious and repetitive thought patterns.
Do You make rational or emotional decisions?
Neuroscientists have proven that decision making is mostly based on emotion over intellect. This became clear through using ‘framing’ studies. Framing studies have shown that how a question is posed, for instance positively or negatively, influences greatly the decision that follows. A brain imaging study revealed the exact workings in the brain.
Benedetto De Martino of the University College in London studied 20 people while they were asked to either gamble or not gamble with an amount of 95 English pounds. When told they would keep 40% of their money if they wouldn’t gamble, only 43% of the group chose to gamble, but when told they would lose 60% of the money if they didn’t gamble, 62% of the group decided to gamble.
Their chances of winning the money were carefully explained beforehand, and participants knew the odds were identical. But the framing effect still skewed their decisions significantly.
The brain images revealed that the amygdala, a neural region that processes strong negative emotions such as fear, fired up vigorously in response to each two-second (on average) gambling decision. Where people resisted the framing effect, a brain region connected to positive emotions such as empathy, and another that activates whenever people face choices, lit up as well, seeming to duke it out over the decision.
"We found everyone showed emotional biases, more or less; no one was totally free of them," De Martino says. Even among the four participants who were aware they were inconsistent in decision-making, said, “I know, I just couldn't help myself," he says.
The study comes amid a burst of research into neuroeconomics, which studies the brain's role in decisions about buying and selling. Economists have embraced the idea in recent years that irrational psychology, rather than cool calculation, plays a role in such decisions. The brain study goes further and suggests that emotions rule decisions almost completely.