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Emotions : a dialog between body and mind

All the emotions that we experience - anxiety, guilt, sadness, joy - are based on a complex circuit involving certain structures of our brain, and the autonomic nervous system.

Emotions play a key role in adaptation phenomena, and nowadays our ability to regulate emotions appears as paramount to foster harmony in our social relationships and in our psychological balance.

The cerebellar amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, plays a major role in the way we decode and experience emotions.
Emotions trigger automatic reactions through the amygdala, which sends nervous connexions to the nuclei of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic systems) and of the brain stem, as well as to the hypothalamus - the latter then triggers the endorphine response (cortisol, endorphins…).

Physiological reactions associated with emotions allow us to adapt (for instance when facing fear), to struggle, or to flee.

The amygdala closely interacts with the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The regulation of emotions mainly depends on our ability to adjust our physiological state of alertness.

The autonomic nervous system plays a key role in our ability to adapt. When it is hyperactive, it can also have direct negative effects on the peripheral organs—particularly on the heart.

Research has allowed to better understand the interconnection between the brain and the autonomic nervous system, which helps analyze the close link between emotions and cardiovascular physiology.