Emotional Thought: Toward An Evidence-Based Framework

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang & Antonio Damasio

In general, cognition and emotion are regarded as two interrelated aspects of human functioning. However, while it is perfectly reasonable and in fact necessary to distinguish between these two aspects in studying learning and development (Fischer & Bidell, 1998), the overly stringent preservation of this dichotomy may actually obscure the fact that emotions comprise cognitive as well as sensory processes. Furthermore, the aspects of cognition that are recruited most heavily in education, including learning, attention, memory, decision making, motivation, and social functioning, are both profoundly affected by emotion and in fact subsumed within the processes of emotion. Emotions entail the perception of an emotionally competent trigger, a situation either real or imagined that has the power to induce an emotion, as well as a chain of physiological events that will enable changes in both the body and mind (Damasio, 1994). These changes in the mind, involving focusing of attention, calling up of relevant memories, and learning the associations between events and their outcomes, among other things, are the processes with which education is most concerned. Yes, rational thought and logical reasoning do exist, although hardly ever truly devoid of emotion, but they cannot be recruited appropriately and usefully in the real world without emotion. Emotions help to direct our reasoning into the sector of knowledge that is relevant to the current situation or problem.

Immordino-Yang, M. H., & Damasio, A. (2014). Emotional thought: Toward an evidence-based framework. The Neuropsychotherapist, 8, 4-7. doi: 10.12744/tnpt(8)004-007

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