The MWS Podcast 92: Sharon Begley on the Emotional Life of Your Brain

This week’s guest is Sharon Begley. Sharon is an American journalist who is the senior science writer for Stat, the publication from The Boston Globe that covers stories related to the life sciences. Previously she was the senior health & science correspondent at Reuters, the science columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and previous to that the science editor at Newsweek. Her interests include the neuroplasticity of the brain, issues affecting science journalism and education She’s the co-author (with Jeffrey Schwartz) of The Mind and the Brain, the author of Train your Mind, Change your Brain and co-author (with Richard J. Davidson) of The Emotional Life of Your Brain which will be the topic of our discussion today.

MWS Podcast 92: Sharon Begley as audio only:
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About Barry Daniel

I live in the Lake District in the UK where I run a guesthouse with my partner Kate and my cat Manuel. I enjoy painting, hillwalking, reading, visiting and entertaining friends, T’ai Chi and playing the guitar. I’m engaged to a certain degree in the local community, as a volunteer with Samaritans and I’m a fairly active member of the local Green party. I’ve had a relatively intuitive sense of the Middle Way most of my adult life but it found a greater articulation and a practical direction through joining the society. It’s also been interesting and great fun engaging with other people with a similar outlook. My main contribution to the society is conducting the podcast interviews, something that gives me a lot of satisfaction and that I’ve learnt a lot from.

2 thoughts on “The MWS Podcast 92: Sharon Begley on the Emotional Life of Your Brain

  1. A really interesting interview by Sharon who manages to give a great snapshot of what emotional styles are and how we can apply our understanding of them. Near the end of the talk, we spoke about the problems dogmatic thinking can engender and one question I wished I’d asked her was how does dogmatic thinking manifest itself in terms of emotional styles and how it can be addressed.

  2. Very interesting. What Sharon said about the interdependence of cognition and emotion very much fits my prior impressions. There are obviously emotional activators in the reptilian brain, but they only take the form they do because of feedback loops of synaptic connection between the reptilian brain (e.g. amygdala and striatum) and the pre-frontal cortex.

    My guess about dogmatic thinking, fitting with what Sharon said about the Middle Way, is that dogmatic thinking can be associated with extremes of any of these emotional styles. What she said about the likely drawbacks of having high levels of any of them suggests that they end up repressing the others. The left prefrontal cortex seems to have a crucial helpful function in suppressing, but when one type of style is taken to an extreme (in association with dogmatic representations) it can stop the others, and at that point it becomes repressive and thus dogmatic by excluding alternatives. My guess is also that the right prefrontal cortex has a role in regulation, providing a wider view beyond whatever representation has initially been used to regulate the emotions.

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