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Does the Brain Respect Basic Emotion Theory? Pattern Classification and Correspondence in fMRI ResearchIn this essay, I examine Lindquist and colleagues’ claim that fMRI data contradicts basic emotion theory, which predicts that the brain has distinct systems dedicated to particular emotions—e.g., an “anger system,” a “fear system,” etc. They argue that each emotional brain region is recruited for several basic emotion categories; thus the brain does not respect basic emotion theory. Drawing on recent pattern classification studies, I argue that extant fMRI findings are compatible with an alternative explanation in which large-scale brain networks provide specific neural signatures of basic emotion categories. Thus the brain may respect basic emotion theory after all.
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh