Rethinking the Emotional Brain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


I propose a reconceptualization of key phenomena important in the study of emotion-those phenomena that reflect functions and circuits related to survival, and that are shared by humans and other animals. The approach shifts the focus from questions about whether emotions that humans consciously feel are also present in other animals, and toward questions about the extent to which circuits and corresponding functions that are present in other animals (survival circuits and functions) are also present in humans. Survival circuit functions are not causally related to emotional feelings but obviously contribute to these, at least indirectly. The survival circuit concept integrates ideas about emotion, motivation, reinforcement, and arousal in the effort to understand how organisms survive and thrive by detecting and responding to challenges and opportunities in daily life. In this Perspective, Joe LeDoux suggests research on emotion should be shifted away from assessing human-type emotion in other animals and towards questions about the extent to which circuits and functions related to survival in other animals are also present in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-676
Number of pages24
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 23 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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