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News: July/August 2013

Emotions correlate with brain activity • Athens braces for World Congress of Philosophy • APA to launch its own journal — News reports by Sue Roberts

Emotions and the Brain

Recent neurological research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, suggests that each emotion humans experience has a distinctive ‘signature’ on fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans. The scans tend to look the same whenever a particular individual has a particular feeling, and look broadly similar even in the brains of different people experiencing a similar emotion. This effect can be obscured by distractions and researchers found that the clearest results could be obtained by scanning the brains of trained ‘method actors’ from the university’s drama school. As ten actors each made themselves experience nine different feelings, researchers were able to identify distinctive patterns of mental activity linked to each emotional state. Following this, the scientists found a computerised method of predicting how the actors were feeling from a fresh set of brain scans.

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