Feel the Thoughts

You think you’re feeling just fine–but are you?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. 

We often connect BRAINS with thinking and HEARTS with feeling. But can FEELINGS affect our thoughts??  

Enter Hadas Okon-Singer from University of Haifa and colleagues. They wondered how thoughts and feelings work together in mental health conditions, like anxiety. The team assessed hundreds of research articles on the topic.  

They looked at the thalamus – our brain’s “BLACKBOARD” – which remembers information needed in the moment. Studies find when someone with anxiety feels threatened, fear may take over that “blackboard.” This can impact brain functions. 

A thalamus that’s not working at its best may affect what we do. If angry, we may drive quicker and think less about where other cars are. Brain areas involved in feeling and thinking might talk more than we thought! 

Understanding what brain areas are telling each other may treat common, costly disorders like anxiety.

For now, don’t worry, be happy! And while driving to mom’s, turn up your chill playlist. Just an idea.

Reference: Okon-Singer, H., Stout, D. M., Stockbridge, M. D., Gamer, M., Fox, A. S., & Shackman, A. J. (2018). The interplay of emotion and cognition. In A. S. Fox, R. C. Lapate, A. J. Shackman, & R. J. Davidson (Eds.), The nature of emotion. fundamental questions (2nd ed., pp. 181–186). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.