The Role of Biological Processes in Perceiving Emotion: Emotion and the Autonomic Nervous System – Emotion (PSY, BIO)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:00 Okay, now.

    00:03 Let's walk ourselves through how emotion and the autonomic nervous system have a relationship.

    00:11 So we are going to abbreviate autonomic nervous system as ANS as hopefully coming up a lot throughout our lectures.

    00:17 So what does the ANS do.

    00:19 So the ANS controls involuntary responses.

    00:22 And what I'm talking about here, is things that you are not actively thinking about.

    00:27 So like the name implies, autonomic, one way to help you remember this for the MCAT exam, is autonomic sounds a lot like automatic.

    00:35 And these are things sort of happening automatically.

    00:38 These are things that you are not really thinking about doing it, they just happen.

    00:41 You can almost say as a reflex.

    00:42 So two main systems that we want to talk about is a sympathetic nervous system and then the parasympathetic nervous system.

    00:49 The SNS and the PNS.

    00:52 So let's walk through both.

    00:53 The SNS is often referred to the flight or fight response.

    00:58 I'm sure you've heard that before.

    00:59 And we're going to get of what that means in a second.

    01:03 It involves a brief intense, vigorous response.

    01:06 So when I was saying a bear or a lion comes to attack you, the sweating.

    01:10 The increase in blood pressure.

    01:12 That increase heart rate.

    01:13 All those activities, all those responses that you are seeing, those are mediated by this SNS, or sympathetic nervous system.

    01:22 It also activates a specific set of glands which are very, very important called the Adrenal Glands to release something called Stress Hormone.

    01:29 And this can include things like epinephrine and norepinephrine.

    01:32 More commonly known as adrenaline or noradrenaline.

    01:36 So you may have heard that analogy, or there is a flush of adrenaline in my blood and we're referring to here is this release of epinephrine and norepinephrine from these adrenal glands.

    01:48 So when you are presented with that situation of a bear is attacking you or lion is coming to attack you.

    01:56 Or let's relate something to your every day scenario.

    01:58 You know, your wife confronts you.

    02:00 You have two options there.

    02:02 You can fight with your wife, or the lion or the bear.

    02:06 Or you can turn around and run away.

    02:08 And so evolutionary speaking this was a survival instinct.

    02:12 And what they were trying to do in caveman days, well say, I'm being attacked by a saber-toothed tiger.

    02:18 I can either fight the saber-toothed tiger with my stick and flint.

    02:24 Or I can run back to my cave in order to survive.

    02:27 So you really have two options.

    02:29 Two broad bends.

    02:30 I'm going to fight or I'm going to run away.

    02:33 And this is something that happens almost instantaneously.

    02:36 And so some individuals tend to almost always want to fight.

    02:40 And some individuals might always run away.

    02:43 So you might ask yourself right now, what are those scenarios that happened to you.

    02:47 You probably know.

    02:48 Am I one that's going to turn around and put up my fist and fight.

    02:51 Or am I going to be the one that runs away.

    02:53 Are they good options.

    02:55 Whatever helps you to stay alive, right.

    02:57 Now when this happens, the response that you get, the increase in blood pressure, heart rate and sweating, is almost instantaneous.

    03:06 And that release that happens of those hormones, is also very, very quick.

    03:10 Now the other side is the peripheral nervous system.

    03:15 And this is something that's a little bit slower.

    03:16 And it's often referred to as the rest-and-digest response versus the fight or flight.

    03:22 So we're thinking fight or flight, that's quick lot of action, versus rest-and-digest, slow like the name implies.

    03:29 Rest-and-digest.

    03:30 So what are we talking about here.

    03:31 This is a situation where your body is saying it's time to calm down.

    03:36 Take it easy to rest.

    03:38 Now the reason there is saying, the reason we are saying rest-and-digest, because we are referring to, the body saying, "I need to activate certain systems that allow me to conserve my energy and increase the process of digestion.

    03:52 So think of Thanksgiving or Christmas or big meal that you have.

    03:57 I went to mama's house because she is so happy that you did so well in the MCAT exam.

    04:01 And she made you your favorite.

    04:02 And you are sitting there and eating your big bowl of your favorite.

    04:06 And what do you do right after that.

    04:07 You undo your pants and you lie down on the sofa and you say, "Oh, mama, you outdid yourself this time," right.

    04:12 And you tend to kind of calm down.

    04:15 May be dose off.

    04:16 You rub your belly and you say what a day.

    04:18 Now what's happening there is you are actually activating the parasympathetic nervous system and you are activating that rest-and-digest response.

    04:25 And we are telling the internal organs that we're safe.

    04:29 There's nothing of danger around us.

    04:31 And we can use this time to help conserve our energy.

    04:36 Digest this food and actually repair body tissues.

    04:39 Now back to my caveman example.

    04:41 When the caveman is confronted with this, saber-toothed tiger, it has to fight or run away.

    04:49 At that point the body actually starts trimming off unnecessary responses.

    04:54 Things like, it doesn't really need to digest food.

    04:56 It doesn't really need to bring blood supply to the extremities.

    05:01 It's more focused on increasing blood supply to the heart.

    05:03 Because it needs it because your heart is pumping.

    05:06 It needs more oxygen.

    05:07 It needs to delivery more glucose or food to the parts of the body that they needs to either fight this tiger or run away.

    05:15 Okay, so it actually does something where it increases your immune response or the ability to fight off and attack.

    05:23 Now in this scenario rest-and-digest, the opposite is happening.

    05:27 The tiger attack is complete.

    05:29 You either run away to your cave or finish beating the tiger.

    05:33 And now you're body needs to calm down.

    05:37 It needs to conserve this energy.

    05:39 And it needs to repair itself.

    05:40 Because the tiger gave you a pretty good beating even though you won.

    05:43 It still beats you up pretty good.

    05:44 And it needs to repair yourself.

    05:46 And so this what that happens.

    05:48 And this is the system that mediates that.

    05:50 The parasympathetic nervous system.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture The Role of Biological Processes in Perceiving Emotion: Emotion and the Autonomic Nervous System – Emotion (PSY, BIO) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Responding to the World.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Knee reflex
    2. Increase in heart rate due to anxiety
    3. Sweating before a job interview
    4. Decrease in blood pressure after eating
    5. Sleeping after a large meal
    1. Decreased intestinal peristalsis
    2. Decreasing heart rate
    3. Miosis
    4. Contraction of alveoli and bronchi
    5. Bladder contraction
    1. Norepinephrine
    2. Cortisol
    3. Insulin
    4. Thyroid hormone
    5. Dopamine

    Author of lecture The Role of Biological Processes in Perceiving Emotion: Emotion and the Autonomic Nervous System – Emotion (PSY, BIO)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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