Monday, October 16, 2006

Go Ahead and Talk...Putting Feelings Into Words

Here's a look at why it's often so crucial to put emotional experiences and perceptions into words. Researchers at UCLA found that adding a verbal label like scared or angry (a.k.a. affect labeling) to a view of a person's strong emotional expression significantly dampened the viewers' activation in the amygdala.

That's why many kids (and many grownups for that matter) who are grappling with extreme feelings like anger, fear, despair, feel a great breakthrough when they area able to verbalize their feelings and experiences. Even before the emotions have been fully understood or woven into a context, just being able to put a name to it calms the amygdala.

fMRI Putting Feelings Into Words pdf
Cognitive Reframing Affects Memory of Event / Press Release
The Power of Optimism Powerpoint
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Controlling Feelings


  1. And what happens in the brain when the subject is asked to put in words not feelings, but some very elusive abstract concepts (as it happens, for example, in mathematical problem solving)?

  2. Interesting point, alexandre. Many scientists and others have commented on the fact that if they are truly manipulating or rearranging ideas, the process needs to be non-verbal.

    To name something may restrict or delimit it too much before a new idea or solution is formed.