Subcortical and cortical brain activity during the feeling of self-generated emotions

Nat Neurosci. 2000 Oct;3(10):1049-56. doi: 10.1038/79871.


In a series of [15O]PET experiments aimed at investigating the neural basis of emotion and feeling, 41 normal subjects recalled and re-experienced personal life episodes marked by sadness, happiness, anger or fear. We tested the hypothesis that the process of feeling emotions requires the participation of brain regions, such as the somatosensory cortices and the upper brainstem nuclei, that are involved in the mapping and/or regulation of internal organism states. Such areas were indeed engaged, underscoring the close relationship between emotion and homeostasis. The findings also lend support to the idea that the subjective process of feeling emotions is partly grounded in dynamic neural maps, which represent several aspects of the organism's continuously changing internal state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adult
  • Anger / physiology
  • Brain Stem / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Self Stimulation / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed