How Emotions are Made: The secret life of the brain

Most of what we know about our emotions (and how our brain works) is just plain wrong—and sometimes harmful! Myth: our emotions are hard-wired by evolution in our “limbic” (“reptilian”) brain and emotions are “triggered.” Myth: across the globe humans have universal facial expressions for core emotions (e.g., joy causes smiling). Myth: we control our emotions with our “rational” (neocortex) brain. Myth: the amygdala is the “fear center” of the brain.

Radical health development model

Essential population health goals include protecting and promoting equity and health, transforming people and place, ensuring a healthy planet, and achieving health equity. Naturally, I am often asked to give talks on health inequities (see Presentations). My general approach is to connect structural trauma (poverty, racism, discrimination) and toxic (traumatic) stress (adverse childhood experiences), inter-generational transmission of biological and social risk to offspring, life course neurocognitive development affecting a child’s brain, learning, behavior, and health for life, and industry exploitation of our neuro-vulnerabilities to design and market products for addiction and overconsumption (tobacco, alcohol, prescription opioids, processed foods, gambling, gaming, mobile phones, etc.