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Review
, 17 (3), 715-34

The Circumplex Model of Affect: An Integrative Approach to Affective Neuroscience, Cognitive Development, and Psychopathology

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Review

The Circumplex Model of Affect: An Integrative Approach to Affective Neuroscience, Cognitive Development, and Psychopathology

Jonathan Posner et al. Dev Psychopathol.

Abstract

The circumplex model of affect proposes that all affective states arise from cognitive interpretations of core neural sensations that are the product of two independent neurophysiological systems. This model stands in contrast to theories of basic emotions, which posit that a discrete and independent neural system subserves every emotion. We propose that basic emotion theories no longer explain adequately the vast number of empirical observations from studies in affective neuroscience, and we suggest that a conceptual shift is needed in the empirical approaches taken to the study of emotion and affective psychopathologies. The circumplex model of affect is more consistent with many recent findings from behavioral, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, and developmental studies of affect. Moreover, the model offers new theoretical and empirical approaches to studying the development of affective disorders as well as the genetic and cognitive underpinnings of affective processing within the central nervous system.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
A graphical representation of the circumplex model of affect with the horizontal axis representing the valence dimension and the vertical axis representing the arousal or activation dimension.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The mesolimbic system. The mesolimbic system commences in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) with dopaminergic projections to the nucleus accumbens (NA). The NA has reciprocal connections to the amygdala (A), hippocampus (HC), caudate nucleus (C), and prefrontal cortex (PFC).
Figure 3
Figure 3
The pathways of the arousal network.
Figure 4
Figure 4
(a) The circumplex model with valence focus. This affective circumplex with valence focus demonstrates poor differentiation along the arousal axis. This creates overlap in similarly valenced emotions such as anxiety and sadness or happiness and contentedness. (b) The normal circumplex model without valence focus. A typical affective circumplex with similarly valenced emotions is differentiated along the arousal axis.
Figure 5
Figure 5
The affective circumplex of children. Shown here is a representative circumplex that was generated from the ratings by children of the degree of similarity in facial expressions. Unlike an affective circumplex from adult ratings, various positive emotional expressions are grouped broadly into a “good emotion” category and negative expressions are grouped in a “bad emotion” category.

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