Emotion notes – part one through page 136



approaching emotion:  defining emotion

  1. (tdm/121)”

“…nonverbal behavior is a primary mode in which emotion is communicated.  Facial expression, eye gaze, tone of voice, bodily motion, and the timing of response are each fundamental to emotional messages  (tdm/121).”


affective expressions — limbic system, has been called the “primitive” or “old reptilian” brain, has been described a “…including such structures as the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulated. (siegel/tdm/122)”

“…emotion is not limited to some specifically designed circuits of the brain that were once thought to be the center of emotion.  Instead, these same “limbic” regions appear to have wide-ranging effects on most aspects of brain functioning and mental processes.  The limbic system is specialized to carry out the appraisal of meaning or the value of stimuli.  It is also a center for the mental module or information-processing system which caries out social cognition, including face recognition, affiliation, and “theory of mind” (the view that another person has a subjective experience of mind)….emotion is found throughout the entire brain (siegel/tdm/122).”   Also in brain notes


“cognitive processing” —

ubiquitous = emotions are everywhere all of the time in mental processing — widespread

“Within the field of developmental psychology and psychopathology, emotion and emotion regulation are seen as woven from the same cloth.  In this manner, emotions both are regulated and perform regulatory functions….emotions are everywhere in the processes of the mind….the common distinction made between thought and feeling, cognition and emotion, is artificial and potentially harmful to our understanding of mental processes (siegle/tdm/123).”

“…emotion involves complex layers of processes that are in constant interaction with the environment.  At a minimum, these interactions involve cognitive processes (such as appraisal or evaluation of meaning) and physical changes (such as endocrine, autonomic, and cardiovascular changes), which may reveal some repeated patterns over time….emotion can be seen as involving neurobiological, experiential, and expressive components (siegle/tdm/123).”

“unifying definition of emotions”

“Let us assume that the familiar end products of emotion – what we usually consider in everyday thinking as the common feelings of anger, fear, sadness, or joy – are actually not central to the initial experience of emotion.  Let us also assume that emotions do not necessarily exist at all as we may usually think of them:  as some kind of packets of something that can be experienced, identified, and expressed….Instead, let’s consider that emotions represent dynamic processes created within the socially influenced, value-appraising process of the brain.  Finally, as we examine what emotion might be in the individ- (p 123) ual, let us recall what we have learned about attachment relationships and the alignment of states of mind.  This requires that we continue the challenging task of thinking about the individual mind within the context of human relationships, rather than in isolation from social meaning (siegle/tdm/124).”

Initial orientation, appraisal, and arousal

“initial orienting response” a signal in the brain “of heightened activity” (124)

“…how the brain and other systems of the body enter a state of heightened alertness with an internal message of “something important is happening here and now.”  This initial orienting response activates a cognitive alerting mechanism of “Pay attention now!”  that does not require conscious awareness and does not initially have a positive or negative tone.  Very rapidly (within microseconds), the brain processes the representations of the body and the external world generated with this initial orienting process.  As this occurs, processes that can be called “Elaborative appraisal and arousal” begin and direct the flow of energy through the system.  Elaborative appraisal and arousal serve to modulate the state of mind by directing the flow of activation of certain circuits and the deactivation of others.  In this way, initial orientation sets off a cascade of subsequent elaborative appraisal-arousal circuits, which serve to differentiate the unfolding states of mind within the individual.

“Elaborative appraisals assess whether a stimulus is “good” or “bad” and determine whether the organism should move toward or away from the stimulus.  The evolutionary benefit of having core processes that rapidly assess the value of events in the world helps us to understand why the appraisal and arousal processes are so central to the functioning of the brain.  As the circuits are activated in response to this “good-bad” evaluation, the mind has a further elaboration in the flow of energy through its various mental processes involved in approach or withdrawal.  Emotional processing prepares the brain and the rest of the body for action.  Elaborative appraisal and arousal extend the initial orienting process of “Pay attention!” to “Act!” within a short period of time.  The appraisal process evaluates the informational meaning of stimuli;  the arousal process directs the flow of energy through the system.

“Appraisal involves a complex web of evaluative mechanisms, in which both external and internal factors play active roles.  The spe- (p 124) cific nature of appraisal incorporates past experience of the stimulus, including emotional and representational elements of memory; present context of the internal emotional state and external social environment; elements of the stimulus, such as intensity and familiarity; and expectations for the future (siegel/tdm/125).”

(pp 124-125)

++ if there is a discrepancy between the internal set of expectations and some feature in the external environment that is a stimulus – then there is an emotional arousal response to the discrepancy between these two that is called tension – general term “arousal” is thus used “with this emotional engagement frame in mind.”

“Emotion and its regulation are examined within a “tension modulation hypothesis”:  Such tension is not in need of reduction, but is managed within an individual’s interaction with the environment, especially with significant others in the social world.  Emotional forms of arousal…reflect a subjective sense of meaning, which is evaluated in response to engaging with experience (internal or external). (siegel/tdm/125)”

primary emotions

“The term “primary” emotions can be used to describe the textures of the shifts in brain state that are the results of both initial orientation and elaborative appraisal-arousal process….The use of the term “primary” is suggested here to emphasize the initial, core, and ubiquitous quality of these essential emotional features.  As in “primary” colors, the term also implies that various combinations of primary emotional elements may constitute a wide range of textures within the spectrum of emotional experience.

“These primary emotional sensations of the mind’s state are without words and can exist without consciousness.  They reflect the nonverbal sensation of shifts in the flow of activation and deactivation – the flow of energy and evaluations of information – through the system’s changing states.  Primary emotions directly reflect the changes in states of mind.  These changes may be subtle or intense; they may be fleeting or persistent; they may continue as gentle sensations, like (tdm/125) waves lapping on a shore, or they may evolve into larger, global changes, like a storm pounding on the beach.  Primary emotions are dynamic processes of change; again, they are not packets of something, but rather are fluctuations in the energy and informational flow of the mind….

“When an event has meaning for an individual, because it is discrepant from prior experiences or because other evaluative processes label it with significance, the brain is alerted to focus attention:  “This is important!  Pay attention!”  At this point, the orientation serves as a kind of jolt to the system.  The primary emotional experience is one of increased energy and alertness.  Second, the brain must further appraise the meaning of the stimulus and of the aroused state itself.  At this moment, primary emotions are now being experienced as developing “hedonic tone” or “valence.”  For example, the elaborative appraisal and arousal processes may create a sensation such as “This important thing is bad.  Watch out!  There is danger here,” and the flow of energy through the system becomes channeled toward a cautious, hypervigilent stance.  At this point, the rush of energy has now been directed to a fearful, unpleasant state reflect in a high primary emotional intensity with a sense of danger.  In contrast, elaborative appraisal and arousal may assess the initial orientation as good, something to seek more of; this creates a primary emotional state of eager anticipation.  In this way, appraisal and arousal create a state of mind that is predisposing the individual to act in a certain fashion.  At the most basic level, valence can be labeled as good and involve approach, or can be labeled as bad and involve withdrawal.

Primary emotions themselves, in addition to the stimulus itself, can be appraised by the value systems of the brain.  This evaluation of primary emotions reflects the basic flow of emotions from initial orientation to elaborated appraisal-arousal processes.  In this manner, the mind begins to assess the value of its own evaluative and activation processes.  The recursive nature of such a continuing “appraisal of appraisals” is actually quite common in the complex system of the mind….(tdm/126)…the appraisal of states of arousal is influenced by interpersonal experience and leads to further elaboration of appraisal-arousal circuits, which directly influence the unfolding primary emotional states. (tdm/127)”

Dictionary:  hedonic = relating to or characterized by pleasure

Valence = degree of attractiveness as a behavioral goal

Differentiation and categorical emotions

“Following the first two steps of initial orientation and elaborative appraisal-arousal, a third phase that can occur in the experiencing of emotions is the “differentiation” or channeling of activation pathways.  The more highly categorized activations represent the differentiation of primary emotional states.  Sometimes we may feel “neutral,” being unable to identify any particular verbalizable feelings.  At other times, however, our primary emotional states – the flow and change of energy through our emerging states of mind – become further differentiated into more well-defined states.

“The differentiation of primary emotional states into specific classifications of emotions, such as fear, brings us to the more familiar notion of “categorical emotions.”  “Categorical,” “basic,” or “discrete” are terms commonly used for those classifications of sensations that have been found universally throughout human cultures, such as sadness, anger, fear, surprise, or joy.  These internal emotional states are often communicated through facial expressions, and….They also appear to have unique physiological profiles in which they manifest themselves.  Categorical emotions can be thought of as differentiated states of mind that have evolved into specific, engrained patterns of activation.  Cross-cultural similarities in the manifestation of categorical emotions suggest that the human brain and body have characteristic, inborn, physiologically mediated pathways for the elaboration of these states of mind.  (tdm/127)

“The brain has a physical reality to its construction through (p 127) which internal states are expressed via our genetically and experientially created bodies….Though we can categorize emotions within an individual and across cultures, this does not mean that one person’s categorical emotion, such as sadness or fear, is identical to that of another individual (siegel/tdm/128).”

Affect and mood

“The way an internal emotional state is externally revealed is called “affective expression” or simply “affect.”  Affect appears within nonverbal signals, including tone of voice, facial expression, and bodily motion.  These external expressions can be defined as “vitality affects” or as “categorical affects,” revealing the primary or the differentiated nature of the emotional states, respectively….The purpose of the expression of emotion is considered to be social communication….

“It is interesting how often people consider the categorical emotions the only emotional processes they can try to know, or attempt to communicate to others.  Examining the three phases of emotional response – states of initial orientation, elaborative appraisal and arousal, and then categorical emotions – yields a new way of thinking about how to respond to the question “How are you feeling?”  The term “feeling” can be used to describe the conscious awareness of either an emotion or an affect. (128)”

We can feel (categorically) “sad” or “mad” or “happy.”  We may come to be aware of this by how we sense our minds or our bodies, or aware of just feeling “bad” or “good,” or just “normal” (neutral), reflecting our initial appraisals without further differentiation into categorical emotions.  Often we may also be aware of only feeling less differentiated primary emotional states, such as surges of energy, a sense (p 128) of deflation, images of one sort or another, diffuse fogginess, or nervous agitation.  These flows in our states of mind – the changes in activations without our brains – are defined here as our primary emotions, and can be seen externally as what have been termed vitality affects.  Primary emotions are a frequent part of our basic “feelings.”  (p 129)

“Parents attune to the subtle changes in a baby’s state of arousal, not merely the categorical affect that the infant may or may not be expressing.  In fact, this expression of internal state through vitality affects is the primary mode of communication between an infant and a caregiver during the early years of life.  These affective expressions reveal the profile or energy level of the state of mind at a particular moment.  The profile contains within it a picture of how the individual’s internal state is being expressed in a changing state of activation of the face, motion in the body, and tone and intensity of the voice.  Vitality affects reveal aspects of the primary nature of emotion – the changes in the system’s state of arousal. (siegel/tdm/129)

“It may be that primary emotional experience reveals both how we know ourselves and how we connect to one another….The experience of expressing one’s emotional state and having others perceive and respond to those signals appears to be of vital importance in the development of the brain.  Such sharing of primary emotions does not merely allow the child to feel “good”; it allows the child to develop normally. (siegel/tdm/129)”  also in brain notes

Primary emotions are expressed in a unique manner in the moment, just as an individual’s state of mind at a particular time is a one-of-a-kind state.  The flow of states moves forward in time and never repeats itself. (underlining is mine to indicate this part is also placed in the NOTES ON TIME) This flow of states is unique.  Vitality affects are the external expressions of primary emotions.  In contrast, the external expressions of categorical emotions may reflect (tdm/129) the very specific routes through which the physical body is able to reveal certain aspects of these differentiated internal states….The view proposed here is that the process from primary to categorical emotions is influenced directly by the unique components of neural processes that form a state of mind.  In other words, the mental state active at a given time may shape the elaboration of arousal and meaning from primary to categorical emotions.  More often, however, our changing states of activation within the mind, our primary emotions, may ebb and flow without necessarily becoming intense, entering consciousness, or becoming further differentiated into categorical emotional states.

The term “mood” refers to the general tone of emotions across time.  (this prior sentence was copied into TIME NOTES)  Mood can be thought of as a bias of the system toward certain categorical emotions.  Mood shapes the interpretation of perceptual processing and gives a “slant” to thinking, self-reflection, and recollections….The influence of mood upon all of these cognitive functions reveals how general emotional tone reinforces itself in a feedback loop that keeps one’s mood spiraling in the same direction.  This may explain the tenacious nature of emotional disturbances such as depression or chronic anxiety, in which a given mood becomes a relatively fixed and disabling state.  In certain individuals, the ability to maintain a flexible flow of primary emotional states may be quite impaired and reflect difficulty in their ability to modulate their emotions. (siegel/tdm/130)”


I imagine he will say more about this last sentence concept later.  Makes me think about the “foreboding” which I see as far more than a feeling or a mood…..but may be just that, a continually reinforced feedback loop while my brain was forming…didn’t have much opportunity for flexibility!


convergence of social processing and emotion  Includes brain info

“By clarifying the distinction between primary emotions and the more familiar idea of categorical emotions, we can become more sensitive to the early stages of meaning-making interactions with others….emotion in general is a complex series of processes and is of central importance in the mind.  It involves the dual nature of the essence of mind:  the flow of energy (siegle/tdm/130) and the processing of information.  Emotion also reflects the essential way in which the mind emerges from the interface between neurophysiological processes and interpersonal relationships:  It serves as a set of integrating processes linking various systems in a dynamic flow across domains and through time. (prior two sentences are in BRAIN NOTES and TIME NOTES) Within the brain itself, emotion links various systems together to form a state of mind.  Emotion also serves as a set of processes connecting one mind to another within interpersonal relationships. (TDM/131)

The appraisal centers of the brain are located within the limbic system.  A brief review of the anatomy involved will help us to visualize how these processes converge.  These centers involve such areas as the amygdala, anterior cingulated, and orbitofrontal cortex.  External stimuli enter the brain via the sensory systems, such as vision, hearing, and touch.  The representations generated from these perceptual processes are then filtered through the thalamus and passed on to the amygdala, where they are appraised and given initial value:  “Pay attention?  Is this good or bad?”  The amygdala is able to directly affect these basic evaluative and perceptual processes.  It also sends these representations on for further evaluation by the anterior cingulated and orbitofrontal cortex.  Like the amygdala, these centers are processing information about the social environment:  the facial expression, direction of eye gaze, and other aspects of others’ nonverbal behavior that reveal their state of mind.  Information about the social context directly affects the appraisal process.  These areas of the limbic system also register the state of the body and directly affect its states of activation.  Information from these areas is passed on to the hippocampus for “cognitive mapping” and, in some cases, transfer into explicit memory.  The orbitofrontal cortex also plays a major role in coordinating these appraisal and arousal processes with the more complex representations of “higher thinking: and social cognition. (tdm/131)”

“This brief review of the limbic system’s neurophysiological coordination of the input and brain/body response highlights the general statements made throughout this book about the mind:  Neural processes and social relationships both contribute to the creation of mental life.  The limbic system functions as the center of processing of social information, autobiographical consciousness, the evaluation of meaning, the activation of arousal, and the coordination of bodily response and higher cognitive processing.  These processes are not limited to the limbic region, however; rather, they emerge as a convergence of information processing and energy flow that directly (tdm/131) influences a wide array of both basic and more complex processes of the brain. (siegle/tdm/132)”


nonconscious and conscious emotion

also copied into BRAIN NOTES

“Emotions are primarily nonconscious mental processes. In their essence, they create a state of readiness for action, for “motion,” disposing us to behave in particular ways within the environment.  Emotional reactions create this disposition by determining the brain’s activation of a wide array of circuits leading to changes in the state of arousal within the mind/brain and other areas of the body.  The amygdala is a cluster of neurons that serves as a receiving and sending station between input from the outer world and emotional response.  As a coordinating center within the brain, the amygdala, along with related areas such as the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate, plays a crucial role in coordinating perceptions with memory and behavior.  These regions are especially sensitive to social interactions.  They nonconsciously assign significance to stimuli; their actions influence a wide array of mental processes without the involvement of conscious awareness.  These circuits are widely connected to other regions that directly influence the functioning of the entire brain as a whole system.

In fact, the limbic system also registers the state of the body and directly influences the body’s state of activation via regulation of the autonomic nervous system.  In this manner, the limbic system serves as a source of social processing, stimulus appraisal, and brain/body (“emotional”) arousal; these may originate within particular limbic regions, but there are no clear boundaries to their effects.  Once again, emotion is not merely a function restricted to the areas defined as central to the limbic system; emotion directly influences the functions of the entire brain and body, from physiological regulation to abstract reasoning.

The amygdala has been studied more than any other appraisal center and has been found to play a crucial part in the fight-or-flight response.  Classic studies have examined its role especially with regard to gear states…(siegel/tdm/132)..The amygdala receives and sends signals directly from and to the visual system, reacting to visual stimuli without the involvement of consciousness….First receiving from and then sending signals to the visual centers, the amygdala can rapidly bias the perceptual apparatus toward interpreting the stimuli as dangerous.  All of this occurs within seconds and does not depend on conscious awareness.

Nonconsciously, the brain is wired, at least with regard to the fear response, to create a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  If the amygdala is excessively sensitive and fires off a “Danger!” signal, it will automatically alter ongoing perceptions to appear to the individual as threatening.  This may be a basis for phobias and other anxiety disorders.  For example, if a child encounters a dog that growls and lunges at her, she may have a response of fear.  At this time the amygdala directly activates arousal centers (located in the brainstem and forebrain) that create a general state of increased excitability through the release of substances such as noradrendaline in the brain and adrenaline in the body.  The whole child becomes hyperalert and ready to deal with the “danger.”  If particular mental representations are active at the time of this arousal, then they will become associated in memory with a feeling of danger….Now a learned feedback loop has been established in which a dog can be a source of amygdala activation firing in the future.  The brain learns to anticipate a bodily response of hypervigilance to the animal, and a constellation of fear and avoidance behaviors to dogs can then unfold.  Such early experiences of fear may become indelible subcortical emotional memories, which may have lasting effects. (siegel/tdm/133)”

(Great, and what happens when the dog is your mother?  And the fear is generalized to ALL people)

How does this rapid, automatic process become conscious?  Consciousness is a controversial subject that has long intrigued philosophers and more recently neuroscientists.  Though there is no universally accepted explanation for the experience of consciousness, either (siegel/tdm/133) in the sense of awareness or in the qualitative sensation of subjective experiencing, there are some substantiated views that are quite helpful in understanding aspects of the mind.  One such view of the internal experience of conscious awareness is the view of consciousness as involving a system in the brain responsible for working memory, the “chalkboard of the mind.”  In this perspective, perceptual representations from external stimuli or internally generated images from imagination or memory are functionally connected within an area of the brain called the lateral prefrontal cortex.  It is in this region that attention is modulated, so that an “attentional spotlight” can be focused on particular representational profiles in the brain.  Working memory is able to handle only a limited amount of units of information, usually in a serial fashion.  Neural activation profiles can be linked to the activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex and give the internal sensation of being within an attentional focus of consciousness.  The lateral prefrontal cortex is located to the outer side of the front part of the brain, just to the side of the orbitofrontal cortex; it is thought to act by linking items together within conscious awareness, where they can be focally attended to and manipulated. (tdm/134)

What exactly it means for neural activation profiles to become “linked” is a central concern for scientists of the brain and mind.  How do simultaneously activated processes bind together to form a continuity of experience?

(me:  what if they don’t, and you get “simultaneous time?”) One approach to trying to answer this binding question comes from studies of the waves of electrical activity sweeping across the brain on a regular basis.  A forty-cycle-per-second (“forty-hertz” or “40-Hz”) pattern has been noted, in which the brain becomes active from back to front.  This activity occurs in both halves of the brain and has been identified as a “thalamocortical” sweep, going from the deeper areas such as the thalamus up toward the higher cortical regions.  One view is that representational processes (the neural net profiles activated at a particular moment in time) that are “on” at the time of the sweep are bound together as one seemingly continuous flow of conscious experience. This view allows us to see how the phenomenon of consciousness creates a sense of continuity out of what is really a set of quite discontinuous representational processes, such as sights, sounds, thoughts, bodily states, and self-reflections.  This “40-Hz” view also gives us insight into how the lateral prefrontal cortex may become “linked: to particular set of representations – those that are active during the sweep.  The attentional focus of working memory can select from those representations the limited number it may be able to handle at any one (tdm/134) time.  Because of the nature of the sweeping, each hemisphere can functin quite independently of the other.  There are probably left-hemisphere and right-hemisphere forms of consciousness that are quite distinct from each other, based on the unique nature of the representational processes of each hemisphere….(135)”  ( this paragraph will be over in TIME NOTES)

A related view is that when distributed neural assemblies become active in a rapid and strong manner such that they can achieve a certain degree of functional clustering, a temporarily stable state of complexity is achieved.  When these assemblies achieve a certain level of integration, they can become “linked” to the thalamocortical system and their mental processes become a part of consciousness.  This view is also compatible with the notion of some core thalamocortical 40-Hz sweeping process and the linkage with the activity of the lateral prefrontal regions….

One view of how emotions become conscious is when their effects are connected to the activity of the attentional mechanisms of the lateral prefrontal cortex.  For example, when we say that we have a “gut feeling” about something, we may be referring, literally, to a somatic representation in our brains of our “gut response” – the body’s response – to a stimulus.  This feedback loop of bodily response leading to emotional reaction has been a perspective long held by researchers with much scientific validation.  What is crucial to note, however, is that our brains frequently receive this bodily information without the involvement of conscious awareness.  The binding of consciousness may be an “epiphenomenona” in many situations – something that is not essential for other neural reactions subsequently to occur.  We may frequently have nonconscious “gut reactions” that profoundly influence our decision-making processes without our awareness of their impact.  (from here up copied to BRAIN NOTES)

(let me interject here between these paragraphs:  this is tied to those of us who get overwhelmed by our emotions and can’t regulate them, so they over power any other choices we have when making decisions….like me leaving Naco.  The emotional overwhelming gets dangerous!  Also has to do with poor decision-making and lack of being able to plan for the future.  How do we become able to desensitize ourselves?  Maybe we are hypersensitive to the bodily responses leading to emotional reactions!  And we can’t regulate them or their intensity or our behaviors/choices.  We also have a messed up value-assigning system for “the significance of stimuli.”  And as below, get lost in a “sea of emotion”)

We can also become aware of a sense that something feels “meaningful.”  In this case, we have caught a conscious glimpse of emotion as a value system for the appraisal of the significance of stimuli.  Some aspect of the effects of emotional processing has become bound in consciousness.  Another example of emotion’s becoming a part of our conscious experience is when we feel ourselves becoming lost in a “sea of emotion.”  Our minds are capable of being bombarded by a flood of stimuli from emotional processes, which fill us with an overwhelming feeling.  These sensations may (siegel/tdm/135) reflect primary emotions (such as internal shifts in states of arousal) or categorical emotions (such as anger, fear, sadness, excitement, or joy).  Emotions are what create meaning in our lives, however, whether we are aware of them or not.

(again, let me interject:  mother was nothing BUT her emotions…..yes, I can see what when the evil monster appeared in her eyes and on her face and in her body, she was experiencing no doubt the primary emotion-internal shift in states of arousal.  But I don’t think her emotions created meaning in her life…..or did some of them?  Did they guide her in some strange way?  She certainly bombarded me with her emotions, and overwhelmed everybody else in the family)

“Some people have very little awareness of their emotional reactions to things….”

“…emotional processes are primarily nonconscious….The lack of connection between consciousness and the arousal-appraisal system does not mean that there is a lack of emotion, however.  Instead, we can state that there is a lack of binding of emotion to consciousness.  Consciousness may be necessary for an intentional alteration in behavior patterns beyond “reflexive” responses.  Without the involvement of consciousness and the capacity to perceive others’ and one’s own emotions, there may be an inability to plan actively for the future, to alter engrained patterns of behavior, or to engage in emotionally meaningful connections with others.”  (Tdm/136)


emotion as a value system for the appraisal of meaning

(the following is copied to BRAIN NOTES, and the last part also to DISORGANIZED NOTES)

“The functioning of the brain as a complex system of neuronal circuitry requires it to have some way of determining which firings are useful, neutral, or harmful.  Without such an appraisal mechanism, stimuli from the outside world and internally generated states and (siegel/tdm/136) representations would all be equally welcome.  Such an organism would not be able to organize its behavior, to accomplish tasks that allowed it to survive, or to pass on its traits.  The brain must have a way of establishing value in order to organize its functions. (137)

(my paragraph separation)

“Value disposes us to behave in particular ways.”

(1)     “At the most basic level, the first phase of this process, initial orientation, lets the organism “know” whether to pay attention to something that is important.”

(2)     “The second phase, consisting of elaborative appraisal and arousal, gives the individual the value of whether the stimulus is good or bad.  Good things should be sought; bad things should be avoided.  Value systems in the brain function by way of increasing states of arousal.  Evaluative circuits serve as a neuromodulatory system with extensive innervation throughout the brain that can lead to hyperexcitability and increased neuronal plasticity.  Chemically, this makes the neurons hypersensitive and more readily activated.  By initiating attentional mechanisms, arousal enhances the focus of attention on a particular stimulus.  In this way, attention is often considered the process that directs the flow of information processing.  For perceptual processing, this means, for example, that a person will pay more attention to an object.  For memory, arousal leads to enhanced encoding via increased neuronal plasticity and the creation of new synaptic connections, and therefore increased likelihood of future retrieval. (137)”

(me:  this system is not completely developed in infants.  They cannot initially assign meanings in their brains…..and as they begin to, it has to be on a very basic level.  If there are lots of “bad things” happening to an infant, how does this 2nd phase develop correctly – or usefully?  His example above about memory….is this how mother got stuck…and where?)  (the following is copied to BRAIN NOTES, and the last part also to DISORGANIZED NOTES)

“As the activations within the brain change, energy flows through the system.  Changes in the state of the system are changes in this flow of energy.  Many factors in addition to appraisal influence what determines how the system’s state changes over time.  (copy to TIME NOTES) These determining factors include present input from the external world or from other components of the body, as well as constraints established from prior experience  (such as Hebbian connections) and present appraisals.

“Moreover, there are many forms of arousal, which involve different circuitry.  Initial orientation may then activate specific elements of attention.  This initial state “energizes” attentional and perceptual circuits, which then lead to further, elaborated appraisals.  This elaboration can produce different forms of subsequent arousal, depending on the nature of the appraisal.

At the most basic level, stimuli appraised as “good” will arouse elements of cognitive and behavioral approach.

Stimuli appraised as “bad” will arouse withdrawal patterns of neural circuitry activation.

When we think of the concept of “arousal,” se need to keep in mind that it is a general notion referring to a wide range of specific activation patterns (tdm/137)”

(paragraph breaks are  mine – the above is one paragraph)

(What actually are the arouse withdrawal patterns of neural circuitry activation?  This is crucial because a tiny infant has very few, if any, options….so they would have to be most basic…and would be used again and again and again, becoming “ingrained” and they would be developed, not the approach elements)

“It is interesting to note that some of these approach/avoidance (tdm/137) distinctions may in fact be hard-wired into the brain.  For example, recent studies suggest that the ability to process others’ facial expression of emotions, an ability thought to exist in the anterior cingulated, the orbitofrontal cortex, and the amygdala, may have distinct characteristics in different regions.  Preliminary findings suggest that the amygdala appears to contain face-recognition cells that exist solely to respond to expressions of fear and anger – not positive emotions or even other negative ones, such as disgust.  The limbic regions se input of others’ emotions to regulate a person’s internal state and external responses directly.  As Main and Hesse have proposed, disorganized attachment is commonly associated with parents who show frightening or frightened behaviors.  (they need to quit linking these two together as equal!) Perhaps these findings reflect the role of parental anger and fear in repeatedly activating specific face-recognition cells within the amygdala as well as generating the characteristic flight-flight response mediated by this limbic region.  Could such a specific and ingrained set of limbic states be at the core of the disorganized behaviors (and dissociation) exhibited by these children?  These behaviors can be proposed as elements of an excessively sensitized amygdala’s fight response.  Low levels of stress may be able to activate these reflexive responses, and may trigger the rapid perceptual-amygdala feedback loop, which reinforces the sensation of threat.  In general, the communication of different types of emotions in children’s home environments and the unique neurobiological effects of these emotions may be important in determining the children’s patterns of response over time (siegle/tdm/138)”  (copied also into DISORGANIZED NOTES & BRAIN NOTES)

(I still beg to differ on the dissociation part, also!)

this above is also in dissociation notes)

“Some aspects of the value system are inborn, and some are acquired through experience.  Some constitutional aspects of a value system include the motivational system of attachment and novelty seeking.  Within the brain are clusters of cells that are designed to fire in response to eye contact and facial expressions.  These clusters of social responders are located within the value centers of the brain, such as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex.  For example, seeking proximity to a caregiver and attaining face-to-face communication with eye gaze contact is hard-wired into the brain from birth.  It is not learned.  Similarly, infants are “natural explorers,” seeking out new stimuli within their increasingly sophisticated ability to search the environment.” (Tdm/138, my para break) copied into brain notes and to top of SEEKING chapter

“Discussions of the genetic determinants of emotional behavior offer helpful insights into the way in which our value systems organize our behavior to increase the chance of survival.  Evolutionary theory suggests that those organisms with geneti- (tdm/138) cally encoded specificity to their appraisal, such as fearing a snake or becoming aroused by a suitable mate, will have a significantly increased likelihood of passing on their genetic information to future generations.  Genes clearly play a large role in the value system of the brain. (tdm.139)”

(these two paragraphs follow one another in his book)


“Action, learning, and development can be viewed as interrelated sets of phenomena throughout life.  For infants, interactions with the environment are driven by the emergence of the increasingly complex capacities of their brains to represent the world around them.  The inborn aspects of the value system are in place from the beginning of life, but the system is also shaped by learning from experience.  For example, a child will naturally make eye contact with a parent as a “good” interaction.  However, if such eye contact results in her being overwhelmed and intruded upon by the actions of the parent, then such interactions may become associated with a negative value.  The child learns that eye contact should be avoided.  The brain can learn to modify its response to the evaluative system’s initial criteria of what is good or bad, based on past interactions with others.  If past eye contact leads to a flood of disorganizing activations, the avoidance of such experiences in the future will help keep the self organized.  (siegel/tdm/139)”  copied to dissoc, brain, self, disorien notes)

(An infant’s brain/mind is not organized initially….see other statement by siegel…that it is in chaos.  So it is not, early on, about keeping the self organized…..there is no organized self, so therefore there is no self!  And if these experiences are naturally meant to teach an infant to moderate and regulate, without them….what is there to do that job?  State stay in chaos?)


The appraisal of stimuli and the creation of meaning are central functions of the mind that occur with the arousal process of emotion.  Incoming stimuli are appraised for their value, and the representations of these stimuli are then linked with a sense of “goodness” or “badness.”  As the child develops, the increasingly complex representational system becomes capable of more subtle evaluative sensations.  These variations on the “good or bad” theme are what lead to the wide variety of emotions we are capable of feeling.  We are unique individuals brecisely because both our value systems and our interactional histories are one-of-a-kind combinations.  As the intertwined nature of value system responses and environmental encounters unfolds, each of us continually emerges and defines ourselves.  (siegel/tdm/139)”  (copied into self notes)


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