Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 21 (6), 1184-1211

Affect Is a Form of Cognition: A Neurobiological Analysis


Affect Is a Form of Cognition: A Neurobiological Analysis

Seth Duncan et al. Cogn Emot.


In this paper, we suggest that affect meets the traditional definition of "cognition" such that the affect-cognition distinction is phenomenological, rather than ontological. We review how the affect-cognition distinction is not respected in the human brain, and discuss the neural mechanisms by which affect influences sensory processing. As a result of this sensory modulation, affect performs several basic "cognitive" functions. Affect appears to be necessary for normal conscious experience, language fluency, and memory. Finally, we suggest that understanding the differences between affect and cognition will require systematic study of how the phenomenological distinction characterising the two comes about, and why such a distinction is functional.


Figure 1
Figure 1
A simplified version of the traditional view of the cognition/emotion distinction within the brain (adapted from LeDoux, 1996).
Figure 2
Figure 2
The widely distributed network of neural regions involved in computing a core affective state. These regions include subcortical areas typically considered to be “affective” (e.g., the amygdala and nucleus accumbens), as well as portions of the cortex that are typically considered “cognitive”, e.g., the ventromedial prefrontal cortex/anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex (adapted from Barbas et al., 2003).

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 56 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

LinkOut - more resources