What Your Amygdala Really Does, with Joseph Ledoux and Roger Dooley

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This is an absolutely fantastic podcast and transcript published by Neuromarketer Robert Dooley. It is about the work and music of Neuroscientist Joseph Ledoux. They discuss how to combine exposure therapy with anti-anxiety medication to mitigate against non-conscious aversive stimuli such as phobias. Ledoux's work has profound implications for affective neuroscience; basically emotions such as fear, anxiety and yes even love and happiness are subjective constructs. I have written earlier about the faux dichotomy of reason vs emotion and Ledoux explains that cognitive reasoning occurs whether you are conscious about it or not.

Some of the key takeaways which I believe are imperative to grasp if you are interested in either emotional or affective intelligence are the following:

  1. The brain systems that gives rise to threat detection and response are different from the brain system that gives rise to conscious feeling (emotions).
  2. The non-conscious (as opposed to subconscious or unconscious) brain detects and responds to stimuli they don't even know exists.
  3. The conscious experience of fear is a cognitively constructed process involving the highest centers of the brain.
  4. Fear (feeling about a present stimuli) is distinct from anxiety (worry about a future stimuli).
  5. There is a need to develop treatment that targets non conscious vs conscious threat detection processes.
  6. Most of what happens in the brain happens at a non-conscious level.
  7. Non conscious does not mean non mental.

The full podcast is available for download here.