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Accidental Cognitive Science, or: "How I learned to stop worrying and love cognition"

Dr. Alan Daniel

Thursday, October 22, 2009, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Rutgers University, Center for Cognitive Science Department

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This is the story of a researcher setting out to investigate emotional phenomena, and ending up exploring a purely cognitive aspect of it. The opioid system, notorious for its involvement in physical pain, is also involved in surprising reward loss situations (referred to by some as "psychological pain"). Theories designed to explain the affective reaction to reward loss differentiate between purely cognitive inputs, (i.e., comparisons of incentive values), and the affective output (i.e., frustrative response). A series of pharmacological experiments were designed to test whether the opioid involvement in reward loss situations is specific to the comparison between expected and received rewards (cognition), the hedonic output of this comparison (emotion), or the acquisition of an expectation of the emotional reaction (memory).

Key words: affect, incentive value, cognition, hedonic values, opioids, pharmacology, pain, memory

Dr. Alan Daniel