How are emotions built?


Emotions are constructed through a variety of complex processes involving the brain and body. According to , emotions are not simply responses to external stimuli but arise from an internal state termed 'affect'. Affect includes levels of autonomic arousal, hormones, and neurotransmitters, setting the stage for specific emotions to emerge. Managing daily routines, referred to as the "six core pillars" (sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress control, social connection, and brain health), significantly impacts our affect and consequently our emotional experiences. When these pillars are consistently maintained, they create a neurochemical and neural environment that enables the brain to predict and produce more positive emotional reactions, regardless of the external circumstances 1.

Moreover, the context in which we experience things heavily influences our emotions. They are not localized to a single brain area but involve complex brain circuits and depend greatly on our experiences and cultural background. The interactions and connections between different brain areas, particularly during early development, play crucial roles in the formation and function of our emotional responses 2.

Additionally, emotions involve significant inputs from physiological responses, as illustrated by the role of the vagus nerve, which aggregates sensory and functional data from the gut, heart, and respiratory system to influence our emotional states. This shows the intricate link between our body's internal conditions and our emotional outcomes, highlighting how emotions are essentially intertwined with our physical states 3.

Shifting Emotional Tone

Andrew Huberman explains how tending to the six core pillars on a daily basis can shift our affect and emotional tone, leading to more positive emotions regardless of life circumstances.

Huberman Lab

Mental Health Toolkit: Tools to Bolster Your Mood & Mental Health