PREVIOUS: Anger & the Brain (Part 4)
SITE:The Brain in Love – areas that are ‘switched off’
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
ASYMMETRY – Althoug most brain functions can be found in both hemispheres (More…), each side has its specializations. The 2 main organizing principles of emotions in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) are based on the slight difference in their sizes, & differing ways of processing emotions, which are:
a) ‘Emotional Valence’ (pleasant-unpleasant)
b) ‘Motivational Direction’ (approach-withdrawal)
COMBINING these models gives us:
Approach – The LEFT lobe of the PFC mainly produces chemical connections which allow us to experience pleasurable emotions (joy, interest, relief, love, pleasure…), which make it easy for us to be close to others. Damage to this side causes depression.
ALSO – it mainly controls verbal tasks, & making decisions about what experiences to store in memory. ‘Positive’ emotions improve verbal memory, but hinder spatial memory.
Withdrawal – The RIGHT hemisphere is the main source of chemicals generating unpleasant & painful emotions, such as fear, dread, anxiety, disappointment…. which create the desire to withdraw. These emotions are especially needed to encourage withdrawing or avoiding inappropriate & dangerous situations. Damage to this side causes mania (anxiety).
ALSO – it mainly deals with spacial tasks, retrieving & monitoring the value of stored memories, & nonverbal movement such as facial expressions. Reverse of the LEFT side, ‘negative’ emotions improve spacial memory, but hinder verbal memory.
However – anger seems to be a special case, since it’s more likely to activate the LEFT lobe of the prefrontal cortex. Even though we have been taught to think of anger as a negative, Señorita Neus Herrero, (U. of Valencia, Spain) points out that
“Normally when we get angry we show a natural tendency to get closer to what made us angry, to try to eliminate it.”
This info offers a hint as to why many people prefer feeling anger or rage when upset, rather than emotions that are underneath the anger, such as fear, terror, loneliness, disappointment…. because it give one a sense of power, and maybe even pleasure. Notice when you or someone else is smiling during or after being angry!
✿ For ACoAs under long-term duress, since the emotional hijacking interferes with our ability to think clearly, we react to every thing as if it were an actual danger to us. This can keep us angry, even paranoid – believing we’re still in danger as we were as kids. (Drawing )
► Being continually fearful, enraged, lonely… in childhood – will burn out much of the neuro-chemicals that would normally create a sense of well-being (left lobe), so we’re left with is too much of the down-side ones (right lobe). This can become a chronic condition & will need some kind of treatment to correct (meds, food, herbs, exercise, therapy….)
✿ The 2 amygdala bulbs also determine what memories are stored in the brain and where, based on how intense the emotional response is to whatever we experience. Studies by Larry Cahill, PhD at UC Irvine showed the amygdala are involved in learning & remembering in specific ways:
WOMEN are more likely to remember details of emotional events because their left one is more active, while —
MEN are more likely to remember the gist of emotional events because the right one is more active. (Improving Memory)
◆ “Differences in Male & Female brains”- size of areas, chemicals, stress reactions……
◆ The Whole Brain Model combines a variation of the Myers-Briggs Inventory (psychology) with structural brain parts, Left-Right brain sides, the 4 brain quadrants (physiology) – as a tool to “Improve Team Dynamics and Job Productivity” Scroll down to see charts.
CHART below (scroll down: Anger: Amygdala +/ – PFC)