Research NewsNeurobiology

Probing the Biology of Emotion

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Science  15 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5366, pp. 1005-1007
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5366.1005

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Neuroscientists have begun to explore the physical basis of emotions, by recording the activity of single neurons and analyzing brain chemistry in rats and other animals, and by scanning brain activity in humans. They are finding that intense emotions, particularly at key times in early life, can trigger not only behavioral changes but also long-lasting physical changes in the brain which persist long after the emotions themselves have passed and which shape emotional responses later in life. Researchers are also gaining new insight into emotional temperaments, finding that individuals who are fearful or resilient not only have characteristic behaviors but also distinct patterns of brain activity.