Northwestern Events Calendar


Prof. Lisa Feldman Barrett: Psychology Colloquium Series, Emotions, the Brain, and Meaning-Making

When: Friday, December 9, 2022
3:15 PM - 4:15 PM CT

Where: Online
Webcast Link

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Meredith Hawley  

Group: Department of Psychology

Category: Academic


This talk integrates evolutionary, biological, psychological and cultural perspectives to explore a novel hypothesis: that emotions are flexible biological categories filled with diverse, situated instances.  To explain the emergence of this variation, I’ll suggest that the brain, as a dynamical system of interacting networks, continually and predictively constructs categories that are tailored to the requirements of coordinating and regulating the systems of the body in particular situations. I further explore the hypothesis that these categories create relational meaning: physical signals such as facial movements, heart rate variability, cortisol secretion, etc., have no inherent psychological meaning, and only become meaningful as an instance of emotion (or cognition or perception) in relation to a larger ensemble of signals, some of which exist only in a human brain. This set of hypotheses offers an unintuitive but principled approach to unify a variety of psychological phenomena into a common explanatory framework with a shared vocabulary for theory building.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is among the top once percent most cited scientists in the world for her revoluntionary research in psychology and neuroscience. She is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University.

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