- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Cannon-Bard theory

Alternative eponyms

  • Cannon's theory

Related people

According to the Cannon-Bard theory people feel emotions first, and then act upon them.

Description

Also known as Cannon's theory. Synonym: emergency theory. According to the Cannon-Bard theory, emotions originate from the hypothalamus. An emotion is produced when some stimulus triggers the thalamus to send information simultaneously to the brain (specifically, the cerebral cortex) and the autonomic system (including the skeletal muscles), evoking two simultaneous reactions, the physiological excitement and the awareness of the emotion. None of these two reactions occasions the other. The theory assumes that the bodily process is idependent from the psychological process. The phsyiological reaction include changes in muscular tension, perspiration, trembling etc.

Bibliography

  • W. B. Cannon:
    The James-Lange theory of emotion: A critical examination and an alternative theory. American Journal of Psychology, 1927, 39: 106-124.
    Wikipedia: The James-Lange theory refers to a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions developed independently by two 19th-century scholars, William James (1842-1910) and Carl Georg Lange (1834-1900). The theory states that within human beings, as a response to experiences in the world, the autonomic nervous system creates physiological events such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of the mouth. Emotions, then, are feelings which come about as a result of these physiological changes, rather than being their cause. James and Lange arrived at the theory independently. Lange specifically stated that vasomotor changes are emotions.
  • W. B. Cannon:
    Die Notfallsfunktion des sympathico-adrenalen Systems.
    Ergebnisse der Physiologie, 1928, 27: 380-406.

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