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Oct 30, 2017

 
Welcome to Episode 5, where Neuroscientist LISA FELDMAN BARRETT and I talk about the nature of human emotion, and how misunderstanding emotion may be more consequential than you think. Lisa is one of the world's leading theorists of emotion—of what emotions are—and the conclusions she’s drawn from decades of research may surprise you—a lot. 
 
Her work so compelling and fresh that it's been prominently featured—along with Lisa herself—pretty much all through Season 3 of the popular NPR podcast INVISIBILIA, which is all about the invisible forces that control human behavior. 
 
Lisa and I spoke in Boston shortly after her recent book came out. It's called, HOW EMOTIONS ARE MADE: THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN and I highly recommend it. 
 
 
This book has got everything. It’s feature interest—human emotion—is compelling all by itself. But her exploration of the topic draws from a deep dive into  neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, behavioral ecology, linguistics, philosophy, and on and on—following whichever leads help her find answers. And along the way, she accessibly addresses tough theoretical questions like, "what is a brain even for?” “How do brains work?” and “Why does this matter?”
 
But Lisa also gets into why researchers might have gotten these questions wrong for so long—and that not only touches on a lot of contemporary controversies regarding the way science is done, but also grounds the doing of science in a historical and cultural perspective. This really highlights, among other things, the fact that science is a human activity, conducted by people who, just like you, sometimes have a hard time reconciling strongly held beliefs with conflicting evidence.  
 
Science is hard, friends. 
 
It requires cleverness, sure, but also courage and persistence. Lisa Feldman Barrett has all of that in abundance. 
 
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As always, remember that this podcast is brought to you by VQR and the Center for Media and Citizenship. Plus, we're a member of the TEEJ.FM podcast network.
 
AND... The music of CIRCLE OF WILLIS was composed and performed by Tom Stauffer, Gene Ruley and their band THE NEW DRAKES. You can purchase this music at their Amazon page