"It is an invaluable reference for any neuroscientist interested in understanding the neurobiological basis of drives and emotions where the best information is contained in the animal literature. This is the strength of Panksepp's book which summarizes and references these data around clinically recognizable concepts making the information highly relevant to practicing clinicians." --Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences^"Jaak Panksepp presents a synopsis of animal research on emotion together with stimulating new ideas on the role and representation of emotion in humans and other mammals. It seemed clear to me that Panksepp's affective neuroscience can provide a valuable foundation to emotion research. These are not entirely new ideas, but by presenting them in a comprehensive text on the neuroscience of emotion, Panksepp constructs a strong defense against the not uncommon view that emotions are 'illusionary concepts outside the realm of scientific enquiry.' For this reason alone, Panksepp is to be congratulated. This is a powerful text that will make a lasting impression on emotion research in general. Panksepp has provided a much-needed review of the animal literature, together with fascinating new ideas on the nature of affective consciousness." -- Andy Calder, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK
Emotion is one of those left-aside topics in neuroscience and cognitive science. Research are facinated by memory, learning, attention, consciousness even, but until lately, emotion was only discussed in passing. This book tries to change all that, but maybe seems to take it to far at times, placing emotion as THE fundamental aspect of cognition. Now, there is no question that emotion is not just another "quale", or a "coloring" of experience, but a dynamic, multifaceted, evolutionary ancient and complex system. But I doubt it will turn out to be the key to explaining all of cognitive abilities, lower, or higher. Obviously emotion was there before higher executive control, but this does not mean the latter can be reduced to the former (not that Panksepp explicitly claims this). IT is very interesting however, to see that emotion may play a big part in the phenomenon of consicousness (see for example Damasios books, or Douglas Watts work). Panksepp mainly argues for a subcortical, hypothalamic and midbrain, and neurochemical substrate of emotion. The amygdala (set as the seat of emotion in LeDouxs "the emotional brain") regulates the expression of emotion, but the real players are lower systems, in midbriain mainly. The same goes to putative cingulate cortex theories of emotion. For Panksepp, the midbrain is the essential structure for the creation of emotion. These issues are taken up on the first section on the book But the grander picture in all of this is that it is clear that there must be an integration between cognition and emotion. The second section of the book deals with emotional primitives, and vigilance and regulatory states. The emotional primitives and the value that is attached to emotional states, again, depend on midbrain structures, and are very sensitive to neuromodulation. Pnaksepp deals with emotional primitives like playfulness, fear, sexual behaviour, bonding etc.. and gives their neuroanatomical and neurochemical correlates. The last section has a similar outline, but deals with the social emotions. This is all presennted in textbook form, which is good for clarity. However, it seems that at times there is way too much speculation, and that emotion seems to play a part of everything else in the brain. For example, Panksepp speculates that emotion somehow places the organizing framework for consciousness, and that some kind of representation of self is needed for the experience of emotion. This is very interesting, but highly speculative. Panksepp also argues for regulatory and midbrain structures in the creation of a primitive sense of self (strikingly similar to Damasios "proto-self"ideas). In closing, Panksepps book is essetnial reading for anyone interested in cognition. Emotion should not, and cannot be left out if one wants to understand cognition. IT covers a lot of ground in emotion neuroscience but also speculates in its role in a global integrated model of cognition, the self and even consicousness. This is actually all warranted and welcome speculation, but not clearly prudent. I think that emotion should be placed in its rightful place in the cognitive hierarchy, but I do not think that it is at the top.
Dr. Panksepp has provided a solid foundation for further investigation into the biological bases of emotions and affect. The claims and speculations [reported in the book] were developed from the results of many studies as well as from hypotheses not yet tested. Further research will likely confirm many of Panksepp's claims, but will surely disconfirm others. At least one of the previous reviewers stated that the book is "annoying, speculative, and even erroneous." Of course it is! How else does science progress? If we did not speculate, make errors, or go against earlier suggestions, no discoveries could be made. My suggestion to ths reviewer is to read the entire book. As with any literary work, reading only the first several chapters prevents the reader from realizing the main point of the book.
See my upcoming detailed review of this book in Journal of Consciousness studies, and in journal of Neuropsychiatry. Brilliant and groundbreaking work on midbrain and diencephalic base for emotion in the brain. Wide ranging, integrative, and a must-buy for any theorist, researcher and student struggling to understand role emotion plays in a global theory of mind-brain.
I'm surprised by the favorable reviews written so far. This book was used as the primary reference for one of my courses, and my classmates' opinions of the book were much harsher than "annoying, speculative, even erroneous." The author's presentation of research findings is so disorganized and wide-ranging that it was painful to read. One of the worst cases of logorrhea I've been forced to read. It also left me wondering: has this author ever taken a course in logic? I laughed aloud quite a number of times when he juxtaposed yet another inane armchair musing with preachings that correlation does not imply causation. I also caught a few mistakes in the conclusions he draws from the research (mistakes due to neglect of other research findings or a superficial understanding of the findings used). After a few chapters, I feared to read the rest lest I become "tainted" with erroneous information. If you're looking for a collection of research citations in emotions neuroscience research, this book might be useful. Personally, I think this guy's using the goal of writing a groundbreaking textbook as a front for putting forth his speculations -- why not present them all, so he can later claim authorship for the ones that might haphazardly turn out to be right? If you're looking for a sophisticated review of the latest emotions research written from a world-class-quality theoretical framework, look elsewhere.