The following is my understanding of Lisa Feldman Barrett's research and the theory of constructed emotion.

The key insight to the science of emotions is that "emotions are constructions of the world, not reactions to it."

Brains are not pre-wired with neurons dedicated to a specific emotion. They are not hard-wired in the "reptilian" part of the brain nor are there distinct parts of the brain dedicated to specific emotions.

There are no "universal" emotions.

Emotions are concepts and predictions that are constructed by the brain:

"your brain makes an emotion by using prior experiences of emotion to predict and explain incoming sensory inputs, and guide action"

The brain is making sense of the information it receives. Using previous experience as a guide is a simple way to do this. It saves a lot of time and energy if it matches the current experience with a past memory. Yet, it takes too long to go through thousands of old memories, one at a time.

That's where concepts come in. A concept is thousands of previous experiences compressed into one. We are familiar with the concept of a car and don't have to go through thousands of them we saw before. It's not a new idea, Barrett just applies this to emotions.

"Negative" emotions are also concepts. They just don't feel like ones because we experience them vividly. For example, when we learn that something really bad happened to someone we know, the sadness we feel is a prediction of the appropriate way for our body to react to the news. It wasn't a reaction per se. It arose from a complex system that made a self-fulfilling forecast of what our body required to deal with.

It would take too long for the brain to passively interpret data. To act more quickly it "simulates" what might happen next and acts on that guess. When we are going to a funeral the brains predicts we will feel sorrow and grief. But the same event can bring different emotions in various cultures.

Emotions are real. Yet, what they are telling us might not be. We can't control them but we can ride them out.

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