Context: Affective neuroscience has not developed first-person methods for the generation of first-person data. This neglect is problematic, because emotion experience is a central dimension of affectivity. Problem: I propose that augmenting affective neuroscience with a neurophenomenological method can help address long-standing questions in emotion theory, such as: Do different emotions come with unique, distinctive patterns of brain and bodily activity? How do emotion experience, bodily feelings and brain and bodily activity relate to one another? Method: This paper is theoretical. It advances ideas for integrating neurophenomenology and affective neuroscience, and explains how this integration would allow progress on the above questions. Results: An integrated “affective neuro-physio-phenomenology” may help scientists understand whether discrete emotion categories come in different experiential varieties, which would in turn help interpret concomitant brain and bodily activity. It may also help investigate the bodily nature of emotion experience, including how experience relates to actual brain and bodily activity. Implications: If put into practice, the ideas advanced here would enrich the scientific study of emotion experience and more generally further our understanding of the relationship of consciousness and physical activity. The paper is speculative and its ideas need to be implemented to bear fruit. Constructivist content: This paper argues in favor of the neurophenomenological method, which is an offshoot of enactivism.
Cognitive systems research has predominantly been guided by the historical distinction between emotion and cognition, and has focused its efforts on modelling the “cognitive” aspects of behaviour. While this initially meant modelling only the control system of cognitive creatures, with the advent of “embodied” cognitive science this expanded to also modelling the interactions between the control system and the external environment. What did not seem to change with this embodiment revolution, however, was the attitude towards affect and emotion in cognitive science. This paper argues that cognitive systems research is now beginning to integrate these aspects of natural cognitive systems into cognitive science proper, not in virtue of traditional “embodied cognitive science,” which focuses predominantly on the body’s gross morphology, but rather in virtue of research into the interoceptive, organismic basis of natural cognitive systems.
Context: The current study of emotions is based on theoretical models that limit the emotional experience. The collection of emotional data is through self-report questionnaires, restricting the description of emotional experience to broad concepts or induced preconceived qualities of how an emotion should be felt. Problem: Are the emotional experiences responding exclusively to these concepts and dimensions? Method: Music was used to lead participants into an emotional experience. Then a micro-phenomenological interview, a methodology with a phenomenological approach, was used to guide their descriptions. Results: The descriptions of emotional experiences revealed a temporal structure that could have a linear or circular development. Moreover the qualitative aspects disclosed that these experiences are characterized by corporal sensations and marked variations of emotional intensity. Additionally, the emotional experience was embodied. Implications: The emotional experience is a dynamic process in which bodily sensations take a primary role, allowing the identification of such emotions. The integration of these first-person features of emotional experience with third-person data could lead to a better understanding and interpretation of emotional processes. Constructivist content: This article highlights the need to integrate first-person and third-person methodologies to study and explain human behavior in a comprehensive manner. Key Words: Emotion, experience, micro-phenomenological interview, body, music, affective neuroscience.