Language and Emotions

  • 15 Pages
  • Published On: 14-12-2023


In this essay, I will include a brief overview of current approaches centred on psychological construction to the analysis that proposes the language is an "ingredient" in that formation of impressions with emotional and experiences. I then go through new lesion, clinical and neuroimaging, evidence that emotion terms (such as "rage," "disgust," and "fear") are important in the processing and understanding of emotions. Lastly, I look forward to finding much more proof of the cause that language is significant in emotions in the future.


Emotion and language are undoubtedly related — people make use terms to explain the way they feel in spoken sentences, while speaking to themselves, and while writing — however is the connection between emotion as well as language greater than the unidirectional? Several social as well as neuroscientific constructs in the mind speculation being that the conclusion is always ‘yes.' During the research on emotions, psychological constructionist approaches, in actuality, propose that the known terms to people (such as, 'fear', 'disgust’’ and 'rage,’) act as a predictor and mechanism for the way people reason with feelings being impressions as well as memories of actual feelings defined in context, (Lindquist, MacCormack, and Shablack, 2015), (Lindquist, Satpute, and Gendron, 2015). Other modern theories of emotion remain ambiguous on the function of language with regards to emotion, (Moors, 2013), or even argue on the ability of language to deal with emotion in form of a signal that arouses emotions (Reisenzein, and Junge, 2012), or even as a mechanism of communication which marks aftereffects of emotions. However, from the perspective of a psychological constructionist, terms of emotions as well as the meanings they label are speculated to be essential ‘ingredients' in the first place in generating impressions and memories of emotion. According to psychological constructionists, vocabulary is essential but not sufficient for emotional impressions and experiences. Emotions, according to these viewpoints, are the product of the synthesis of some simple 'ingredients,' including, though not limited to, idea awareness accompanied by words. The interpretation and experience of affect are also essential [Russell, 2003 and Barrett and Bliss‐Moreau, 2009]. On the other hand, 'emotions' (such as anger) are individual states perceived as possessing specific contextual sensations (For example, unpleasantness, elevated activation, a flushed face, adrenaline rushing), objects (for example, a blocked goal, a rude remark from a colleague'), and response orientations (e.g., an insult, a scowl, a desire to retaliate), affect is a rather general sensation of joy or even lack of pleasure [Clore and Ortony, 2013]. Language isn't imagined to be needed for these fundamental affective experiences [Lindquist, 2013]. Affect, unlike 'emotions,' is likely encountered through organisms and occurs early in human growth. Thus, even in the absence of words, an individual may feel joy and displeasure. Rather, psychological constructionists contend that vocabulary is used to convert very abstract perceptions of gratification and displeasure into a distinct and actual category of feelings (for example, an encounter with rage versus fear [Lindquist, and Barrett, 2008]; a person's view of another person as angry as opposed to fearful [Lindquist, K.A., Gendron, Barrett and Dickerson, 2014]). The aim of this article, which is based on psychological constructionist theory, is to assess recent evidence for the hypothesis that language is a significant ‘ingredient' in emotion (for more detailed latest evaluations, (Brooks, Shablack, Gendron, Satpute, Parrish and Lindquist, 2017). I concentrate on current findings, beginning with the one that has a lot of speculation, correlating data and progressing to the greatest amount of explanatory, experimental proof for the function of language as an "ingredient" in emotion.


Emotion is linked to brain areas that sustain language: Proof from correlating neuroscience

Correlational results from emotion imaging of the brain experiments are a valuable instrument for determining if the brain areas correlated with expression, and in particular semantic processing, are still involved during emotions. Indeed, we discovered regions of significant spatial overlap while contrasting neuroimaging results meta-analysis of semantic decisions (Binder, Desai, Graves, and Conant, 2009) and a Meta-analysis in neuroimaging of subjective impressions as well as expectations (Lindquist, Wager, Kober, Bliss-Moreau, and Barrett, 2012). Classically correlated with semantics retrieval and representation (Hoffman, Jefferies, and Ralph, 2015), the left ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC), bilateral lateral temporal cortex (lTC), and dorso-medial prefrontal cortex (DMPC) is included in the brain areas concerned with in both emotion as well as semantics (dmPFC). The anterior temporal lobe, another area traditionally related to representation of semantics by findings in neuropsychology (Visser, Jefferies, and Lambon, 2010), is often prominently involved during feelings (Oosterwijk, Lindquist, Anderson, Dautoff, Moriguchi, and Barrett, 2012), but due to scanner objects, it occurs less regularly in neuroimaging findings than any of these other regions. Individual neuroimaging experiments indicate that the ATL, dMPFC, lTC and vlPFC, play a complex function in emotions by implying that the regions that associate with regions considered to elicit and reflect affect (e.g., the insula and amygdala (Lindquist, Satpute, Wager, Weber, and Barrett, 2016)) throughout the formation of emotional impressions as well as experiences. The results support the constructionist’s psychological hypothesis which argues; affect together with language, are critical ‘ingredients' of emotion. One research (Satpute, Shu, Weber, Roy and Ochsner, 2013) found that during feelings, the dmPFC is particularly important for attending to and incorporating mental information in order to make sense of one's affective condition. VlPFC, on the other hand, is linked to retrieval of semantic principles for classifying emotional events into distinct states. Another recent research (Satpute, Nook, Narayanan, Shu, Weber, and Ochsner, 2016) suggests that this marking mechanism should not arise post hoc, until the feeling has already been produced, which is crucial to the constructionist hypothesis. Instead, the process of verbally marking one's own or another's feelings tends to change how the brain represents the affective "ingredient" of first and foremost, the feeling. The amygdala (responsible for inducing useful reactions in the body) as well as the insula (involved in representing affective shifts in awareness) becomes more active as feelings are labelled with terms [34]. This improvement in amygdala activation during marking is also linked to improved functional interaction between the amygdala with a more ventral part of the medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which has been linked to semantics. Because of this, labelling improves insula and amygdala activation and induces positive associations between amygdala and vmPFC means that the labelling can potentially improve the strength of an emotional reaction, which is consistent with a psychological constructionist viewpoint. An increase in the strength of emotions reported by individuals themselves is linked to bigger and more positive pairing between such areas as the dMPFC and amygdala (Raz, Winetraub, Jacob, Kinreich, Maron-Katz, Shaham, Podlipsky, Gilam, Soreq, and Hendler, 2012) and the vmPFC and insula in two other recent research. These findings seem to contradict other reports that marking emotions is linked to lower amygdala activation for a meta-analysis, and reciprocal associations among other prefrontal areas correlated with semantics (vlPFC) as well as the amygdala (Torrisi, Lieberman, Bookheimer, and Altshuler, 2013). These discrepancies are as a result of the fact that applying principles to make sense of influence will have contradictory results in various situations. Labelling will also heighten feelings by distinguishing figure (the exact experience emotionally) from land (the sensory and affective elements of the ongoing experience), effectively turning a generic emotion of dissatisfaction to an experience that is completely matured such as, "fear." For some cases, use of theories to create sense for affect can aid in the identification and consequent down-regulation of emotions. The evidently contradictory behavioural evidence is mirrored in neuroimaging evidence, in which influencing participants' access to emotional ideas often creates an emotional feeling (for example, increased availability of the term "fear" allows people more inclined to see annoyance as a danger), while influencing participants' access to emotional ideas often reduces the intensity of feelings (e.g., increased availability of the term "fear", allows people to be more inclined to see annoyance as a danger; These results highlight the importance of background and participants' objectives in determining whether language aids in the development, intensification, or regulation of emotions.

Experiments show that manipulating expression affects emotion.

Of note, the correlational nature of neuroimaging data is a big drawback. However, experimental behavioural findings show that improving or hindering linguistic emotion access definitions affects emotion processing (Lindquist, and Gendron, 2013) and also emotion experience. For example, in a study conducted recently, (Nook, Lindquist, and Zaki, 2015), we noticed that use of words while expressing emotions and perception helped the participant to understanding of gestures shown with the face. In actuality, over two trials, where the participants were more sensitive and faster to claim those emotion terms (such as ‘anger’) mirrored emotional faces (for example, scowling faces) than what they were to suggest that one scowling face suited another. Theoretically, merely visual matching of faces should be a simpler process. Emotion terms may have aided cognition by allowing participants to participate in categorical perception, which involves averaging through the multiple visual features that occur on one face to render a specific decision regarding the emotion that is conveyed (Roberson, Damjanovic, and Kikutani, 2010). The results showed consistency with the developmental studies showing that desire of children to learn as well as use emotion terms in spoken language correlates because of their ability to categorize expressive facial emotions in a more adult-like manner (Widen, 2013). These results are related, but then, there is tentative laboratory proof that children may equate a novel term with a novel, previously unseen type of facial gesture, and then distinguish it from others using a mechanism of elimination, (Nelson, and Russell, 2016). Lastly, these findings about behaviours are consistent with other research demonstrating that briefly restricting emotional access to participants’ terms slows them down and allows them less accurate when determining whether two emotional expressions are similar (Gendron, Lindquist, Barsalou, and Barrett, 2012). These results are in line with causal data that suggests that disruption to language-supporting brain areas permanently impairs feeling.

Lesion research in adults shows that impairments of language-supporting brain areas affect emotion.

Adult lesion research is the least abundant, but more causative, proof of the fact that language plays a vital role as an "ingredient" of emotion. Patients suffering from semantic dementia, and also have ATL lesions, naming, and semantic memory defects as a result of a neurodegenerative disorder, are not able to interpret feelings in facial gestures, according to a new report (Lindquist, Gendron, Barrett, and Dickerson, 2014). The patients were required to arrange photos of posed facial expressions that convey emotion (neutral faces, laughing, wrinkle-nosed, wide-eyed, frowning and scowling) into as many as possible groups. Different from age-matched controls, who free-sorted facial expressions into some three branches that correspond to enjoyment, dissatisfaction, and neutral feelings (neutral, happiness, fear, disgust, sorrow and anger), patients with semantic dementia free-sorted their facial expressions into approximately three groups that corresponded to enjoyment, neutral, and displeasure emotions. (anger, sadness, disgust, fear, happiness, as well as neutral). That is, without the ability to understand the significance of emotion terms, patients were no longer able to categorize faces as rage, indignation, terror, and so on. Neuroimaging analyses in patients with front temporal dementia provide additional support for a correlation between impairments in language-related brain regions as well as front temporal dementia (FTD). FTD has far more severe frontal and temporal neuro degeneration, rendering semantic dementia a good case study for data-driven investigations into which frontal and temporal atrophy coincides with deficits of emotion perception. Current research (Jastorff, De Winter, Stock, Vandenberghe, Giese, and Vandenbulcke, 2016) discovered that FTD patients who have trouble recognizing distinct feelings in faces where degeneration is more probable, in semantic brain regions like the vlPFC and ATL. As compared to controls, FTD patients have lower chronic functional integration between these areas of the brain, implying that these brain regions operate together less often to carry out psychological tasks.

In need of more causal and mechanistic proof

While support of the hypothesis that language, which is an important emotional dimension is expanding several findings are still speculative, and the field still needs strong explanatory evidence for this impact. The interaction between language and perception has long been a source of controversy (Whorf, 1956), and the interaction of language and emotion has only been the focus of clinical research for over a decade (Russell, 1991). More explanatory data through different outcomes (e.g., brain function, behaviour, physiology, self-report) is needed moving forward to prove that the existence or absence of emotion terms affects ongoing impressions and experiences of emotions. Causal proof may take several different types. For example, there is actual proof that the existence of words in activities alters brain function (Satpute, and Lindquist, 2021), although more clear proof of the existence or lack of emotion words alters the dynamic multivariate neural representation pattern for emotions is required.

Such evidence for causation would come from demonstrating that combining emotional impressions (if facial gesture visual representations or subjective memory perceptual representations) with words produces new beliefs or encounters. At the moment, the research in children is largely correlational (Widen, 2013), but paradigms in education may be used in both adults and children to show that words aid in the formation of categorical interpretations of sentiment in respects that learning without words does not.

Finally, more explanatory proof that disrupting language disrupts emotions is required. In clinical settings, naturally occur-ring instances are available (e.g., people with cognitive dementia), however, these situations are difficult to come by and are often subject to alternative explanations (e.g., it's difficult to tell how much of a deficit is genuinely focal and confined to one domain). As a result, expanding experiments utilizing trans-cranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily deactivate or stimulate brain regions that take part in language and then analysing the results for feelings may be a potential channel for future research.

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The effects brought by Language-Emotion Relation

Regardless of these possible paths, recent evidence is enough for the argument that emotions and language are ore connected than the unidirectional manner they are thought to be; the consequences caused by that relationship may be far-reaching. To begin with, these findings show that paralinguistic babies, small children, as well as other living beings such as feelings of animals are very likely to vary significantly from emotions of an adult human being, which has a variety of educational and policy ramifications. There is proof that children benefit from being informed about emotions at school and they have a better performance record on their class results, mental as well as social relations, (Rivers, Brackett, Reyes, Elbertson, and Salovey, 2013). Second, these findings indicate that language conditions (for example, aphasia and autism) could result to far-reaching consequences due to empathy as well as emotional cognition than previously thought. Finally, these findings indicate that people will benefit from honing their emotion language; this could assist them not only experience their feelings being much more distinct and actual, but also be able to be in control, (Kashdan, Barret and McKnight, 2015). Finally, these findings show that feelings can be lost in translation across societies with distinct emotion words encoded in their languages. Recent studies support this notion by emphasizing the relative nature of information. Emotion experience differs across cultures (Jack, Sun, Delis, Garrod, and Schyns, 2016), which is a worrying finding in our increasingly global society. Future analysis on these fundamental and applied problems is what I'm looking forward to.


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