Why do emotions feel automatic and uncontrollable? Does rational thought really control emotion? How does emotion affect disease? How can you make your children more emotionally intelligent? Today, the science of emotion is in the midst of a revolution on par with the discovery of relativity in physics and natural selection in biology — and this paradigm shift has immense implications for us all. Leading the charge is psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, whose theory of emotion is driving a deeper understanding of the mind and brain, and shedding new light on what it means to be human. Her research overturns the widely held belief that emotions live in distinct parts of the brain and are universally expressed and recognized. Instead, she has shown that emotion is constructed in the moment, by core systems that interact across the whole brain, aided by a lifetime of learning.
Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett’s research focuses on the nature of emotion from the perspectives of both psychology and neuroscience, and takes inspiration from anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics. Her lab takes an interdisciplinary approach, and incorporates methods from social, clinical, and personality psychology, psychophysiology, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, and visual cognition. Current projects focus on understanding the psychological construction of emotion (i.e., how basic affective and conceptual ingredients provide the recipes for emotional experiences), age- and disease-related changes in affective circuitry within the human brain, how language and context influence emotion perception, how affect influences vision, and sex differences in emotion.