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You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them | Lisa Feldman Barrett


You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them | Lisa Feldman Barrett

Can you look at someone's face and know what they're feeling? Does everyone experience happiness, sadness and anxiety the same way? What are emotions anyway? For the past 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies to understand what emotions really are. She shares the results of her exhaustive research -- and explains how we may have more control over our emotions than we think.

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'How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain' - Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett

Learn how emotions are made and get an insight into the secret life of the brain, with Canadian writer and psychologist, Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett.

One of the world’s most respected scientists in the field of human emotion, her book, 'How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain', has radically changed our understanding of the way we feel.

In a rare Australasian appearance, Lisa will discuss the way that culture, environment and personal history create emotion. Her research has vast implications for almost every aspect of our lives: from legal systems, to parenting to the way we understand the human mind and experience life.

Lisa Feldman Barrett: How the Brain Creates Emotions | MIT Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

This is a guest talk part of MIT course 6.S099: Artificial General Intelligence. This class is free and open to everyone. Our goal is to take an engineering approach to exploring possible paths toward building human-level intelligence for a better world.

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Neuroscientist Reveals Your Brain is Just “Guessing” & Doesn’t Know Anything | Lisa Feldman Barrett

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The experiences you carry with you from your past greatly affect how you respond in the future. We are constantly feeding our brain data based on the world and circumstances we live in. Based on these experiences, our brain is able to formulate a ‘best guess’ and, thus, we form our responses. But are we really in control of our responses? Does our brain truly know anything or is everything our brain concludes merely just a ‘best guess’ and nothing more? On this episode of Conversations with Tom, Tom joins neuroscientist, psychologist, and author Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett to discuss such matters and more as they explore how the human brain develops it’s responses to the world and why it’s important for us to not only understand it for our own sake, but for the benefit of others as well. They discuss the difference between emotion and affect, how our brains develop during childhood, how culture is built into our brains, how concepts are formed and used within our brains, what our body budgets are, and why we should be always approach each other with empathy and compassion first.

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Intro | Tom introduces today’s guest, neuroscientist, and author Lisa Feldman Barrett. [0:03]
Emotions | Lisa discusses the key differences between experiencing emotion and affect. [0:39]
Brain Guesses | Lisa breaks down how our brains process data to inform us how to feel. [9:07]
Sense Data | Lisa shares how our brain processes our senses and the fidelity of each. [11:04]
Semantic | Lisa reveals why the notion that we don’t experience emotion isn’t semantic. [19:59]
Development | Lisa discusses the early development and wiring of a baby’s brain. [25:34]
Culture | Lisa discusses how our cultures are developed into us at an early age. [31:04]
Usability | Lisa breaks down culture and how they serve us in our pursuit of our goals. [37:31]
Concepts | Lisa discusses what concepts are and how they work in our mind’s eye. [42:21]
Change | Lisa shares how experiences have the power to change our brain’s function. [47:51]
Stuck in the Past | Lisa discusses why people are stuck on past experiences. [54:30]
Body Budget | Lisa shares what your body budget is and how you balance it. [57:19]
Deficits | Lisa discusses the traits of today’s world that drains our body budgets. [1:03:53]
Give and Take | Lisa shares how we influence and balance each other’s body budgets. [1:11:46]
Responsibility | Lisa shares why we need to educate ourselves on body budgets. [1:16:52]
Little Things | Lisa shares the things we should be mindful of for a more fulfilling life. [1:23:23]
Different Paths | Lisa discusses the benefits and disadvantages of a zen approach. [1:25:19]
Debate | Lisa discusses our current political system and how we speak to each other. [1:29:20]
Goals | Lisa discusses how we prioritize in pursuit of achieving our goals. [1:37:58]
Empathy | Lisa shares the practice of approaching people with compassion. [1:42:36]
Closing | Tom shares his final thoughts and the power of Lisa’s teachings. [1:49:10]

“…there is no “just the cultural interpretation.” When your brain is making a prediction about what something means, that is a very sensory motor prediction, there is no culture laid on top.” [32:11]

“When your brain is making a prediction, it’s using regularities from experience in your past. And if you live in a particular culture, your regulators are going to be really different than somebody in a different culture.” [46:14]

“The important thing to understand is that every experience you have has the capacity to, even a little bit, change your brain’s function in the future.” [53:35]


Lisa Feldman Barrett: From Essences to Concepts—A Brain-based Understanding of Emotion

Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D, the University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory (IASLab) at Northeastern University, spoke on October 29, 2018, at UVA's Rotunda.
Barrett's research focuses on the nature of emotion from both psychological and neuroscience perspectives. She has been called the most important affective scientist of our time and the deepest thinker on the nature of emotion since Darwin. Barrett has been honored with election to numerous scientific societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada.

For more information, visit

The Three Big Myths About Emotions, Gender and Brains | Lisa Feldman Barrett

Many of our most basic beliefs about emotion are myths. Neuroscientist, psychologist, and author Lisa Feldman Barrett explains why our facial expressions can be misleading and how gender bias plays a crucial role in misunderstanding people. Women aren't more emotional than men. And this is the science that proves it.

Hundreds of leaders from the worlds of technology, art, business and design gathered for WIRED’s two-day festival of innovation. They gathered at London’s Tobacco Dock on November 2-3 2017. Discover some of the fascinating insights from the esteemed speakers here:

WIRED events shine a spotlight on the innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs who are changing our world for the better. Explore this channel for videos showing on-stage talks, behind-the-scenes action, exclusive interviews and performances from our roster of events. Join us as we uncover the most relevant, up-and-coming trends and meet the people building the future.

WIRED brings you the future as it happens - the people, the trends, the big ideas that will change our lives. An award-winning printed monthly and online publication. WIRED is an agenda-setting magazine offering brain food on a wide range of topics, from science, technology and business to pop-culture and politics.


Lisa Feldman Barrett - How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to the book How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, Dr. Barrett has published over 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers appearing in Science, Nature Neuroscience, and other top journals in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, as well as six academic volumes published by Guilford Press. She has also given a popular TED talk.

Dr. Barrett received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her revolutionary research on emotion in the brain. These highly competitive, multimillion dollar awards are given to scientists of exceptional creativity who are expected to transform biomedical and behavioral research.

Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Barrett has testified before Congress, presented her research to the FBI, consulted to the National Cancer Institute, appeared on Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and The Today Show with Maria Shriver, and been a featured guest on public television and worldwide radio programs. She is also an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada.

Cultivating Wisdom: The Power Of Mood | Lisa Feldman Barrett | TEDxCambridge

Do you believe that what you see influences how you feel? Actually, the opposite is true: What you feel — your affect — influences what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett shares the groundbreaking discovery that you experience the world through affect-colored glasses. She also reveals how affect can be a source of wisdom that helps you to make better, wiser choices. Learn more at Lisa Feldman Barrett is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with positions in psychiatry and radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed research papers in top journals on emotion, psychology, and neuroscience. Her research teams span the globe, studying people in the West, the East, and remote parts of Africa. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Blob Perception Illusion - Lisa Feldman Barrett

Full video (You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them | Lisa Feldman Barrett):

Lisa Feldman Barrett – Emotions: Facts vs. Fictions

In this talk, we’ll explore a series of experiments about emotion whose conclusions seem to defy common sense. We’ll learn that common sense is wrong, and has been for 2000 years. In the process, we’ll dispel four of the most widespread fictions about emotions that lurk in classrooms, boardrooms and bedrooms around the world. We’ll then explore a radically new scientific understanding of what emotions are and how they work.
Lisa Feldman Barrett, Northeastern University
March 28, 2019

The 2019 Rotman Lecture was co-sponsored by the London Public Library and The Brain and Mind Institute at Western University.

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Mindscape 123 | Lisa Feldman Barrett on Emotions, Actions, and the Brain

Emotions are at the same time utterly central to who we are — where would we be without them? — and also seemingly peripheral to the “real” work our brains do, understanding the world and acting within it. Why do we have emotions, anyway? Are they hardwired into the brain? Lisa Feldman Barrett is one of the world’s leading experts in the psychology of emotions, and she emphasizes that they are more constructed and less hard-wired than you might think. How we feel and express emotions can vary from culture to culture or even person to person. It’s better to think of emotions of a link between affective response and our behaviors.

Lisa Feldman Barrett received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Waterloo. She is currently the University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory at Northeastern University. She also holds research appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/Harvard Medical School in the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Program and at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging in the Department of Radiology. Among her many honors are the Award for Distinguished Service in Psychological Science from the American Psychological Association, the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Association for Psychological Science, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, and her latest book is Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain.

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Suppressing Emotions | Lisa Feldman Barrett

Neuroscientist and author of “How Emotions are Made”, Lisa Feldman Barrett explains the consequences of suppressing your emotions and the deficit it makes on your body budget.

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Shane Parrish:

How Emotions are Made (Cinematic Lecture)

Emotions don’t happen to you. They are made by your predictive brain, in specific situations: a brain that feels affect and makes concepts absorbed from your life experience while conversing with your body + the world around you.

This cinematic lecture by professor Lisa Feldman Barrett is based off her book of the same name.
If you'd like to partner with Flow to create a cinelect of your own, contact us at

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Lisa Feldman Barrett — The Knowledge Project #92

Neuroscientist, psychologist and author of “How Emotions are Made,” Lisa Feldman Barrett discusses the complexities of the brain, our emotions, improving ourselves and our relationship with others, making good decisions and giving yourself an existential break.

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Lisa Feldman Barrett: Why Do We Have Brains? and Other Neuroscientific Revelations

Have you ever wondered why you have a brain? Let renowned neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett demystify that big grey blob between your ears.

Barrett joins us for a livestreamed presentation with revelations of mind-expanding lessons from the front lines of neuroscience research, with support from her book Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain. She shares where brains come from, how they’re structured (and why it matters), and how yours works in tandem with other brains to create everything you experience. She also tackles popular myths such as the idea of a “lizard brain” and the alleged battle between thoughts and emotions, or event between nature and nurture, to determine your behavior. Join us for an evening full of surprises, humor, and important implications for human nature.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a professor of psychology.She is a University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She has received numerous scientific awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship and an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and is the author of How Emotions are Made.

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201. Theory of Constructed Emotion

We experience our emotions as instantaneous reactions to the world around us, but what if fear, happiness, & anxiety aren’t the result of dedicated, hardwired circuits in our brains? The Theory of Constructed Emotion suggests an alternate explanation.

- Links for the Curious -

“You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them, by Lisa Feldman Barett -

Solving the Emotion Paradox: Categorization and the Experience of Emotion (Barrett, 2006) -

Of Mice and Men: Natural Kinds of Emotions in the Mammalian Brain? A Response to Panksepp and Izard - Lisa Feldman Barrett, Kristen A. Lindquist, Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Seth Duncan, Maria Gendron, Jennifer Mize, Lauren Brennan, 2007 -

How Emotions are Made, by Lisa Feldman Barrett -

Book Summary - How Emotions Are Made: The Theory of Constructed Emotion -

Updated: A re-replication of a psychological classic provides a cautionary tale about overhyped science -

Fear and panic in humans with bilateral amygdala damage (Feinstein et al, 2013) -

A lesion model of envy and Schadenfreude: legal, deservingness and moral dimensions as revealed by neurodegeneration (Santamaría-García, 2017) -

Identifying Emotions on the Basis of Neural Activation -

THUNK 130. Bayesian Inference & Predictive Processing -

THUNK 190. Scientific Realism -

You aren't at the mercy of your emotions CONTROL THEM LIKE THIS ANYTIME | Dr Joe Dispenza

Dr Joe Dispenza (2020) - You aren't at the mercy of your emotions CONTROL THEM LIKE THIS ANYTIME | Dr Joe Dispenza

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Your Brain's Role | Lisa Feldman Barrett

Professor of psychology and author of “How Emotions are Made”, Lisa Feldman Barrett discusses the brain’s interpretation of internal and external sensations and how it provides meaning and emotions to them.

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Shane Parrish:

How To Understand Emotions? with Lisa Feldman Barrett

Emotions Matter Podcast

Psychology researcher and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett discusses where our emotions come from

Psychology researcher and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett discusses her research into where our emotions come from and how it’s changing the way we understand the human mind. This interview was conducted during a live recording of Discovery's award-winning Curiosity Daily podcast at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting (#AAASmtg) in Seattle.

Video footage courtesy of Joseph Fridman:

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