Perspective biopsychologique systémique des émotions de base

Benoît Poisson
D. Psy., psychologue-formateur


La perspective biopsychologique systémique des émotions de base est un modèle heuristique permettant de mieux comprendre comment l’individu apprend à s’adapter à son environnement grâce aux différentes émotions qui se sont développées progressivement en même temps que la myélinisation des circuits neurohormonaux, de la naissance jusqu’à environ vingt et un ans. Ce sont ces mêmes émotions, agissant en complémentarité, qui vont permettre à l’individu de maintenir son équilibre tout au long de sa vie.

Cinq émotions de base ont été retenues, car dans la documentation scientifique, cinq circuits neuronaux associés aux émotions sont définis, soit les cinq circuits décrits par Panksepp : celui de l’agressivité (rage-colère), celui du stress (peur-surprise), développé par LeDoux, celui de la récompense (recherche-joie), développé par Tassin, celui de l’empathie (panique-tristesse), développé par Decety, et celui de la conscience (conscience-bonheur), développé par Damasio.

Mots clés : émotions, circuits neurohormonaux, neurosciences, équilibre


Systemic biopsychological perspective of basic emotions

The systemic biopsychological perspective of basic emotions is a heuristic model that allows a better understanding of how people learn to adapt to their environment through different emotions that developed gradually along neurohormonal circuit myelination from birth until about the age of twenty-one. These same emotions, acting in complementarity, will allow the individual to maintain a balance throughout his life.

Five basic emotions were retained in line with the five emotions related to neuronal circuits, which are defined in the literature, and these are the five circuits described by Panksepp as follows: aggressiveness (Rage, angry), stress (Fear- surprise), developed by LeDoux, reward (Seeking-joy), developed by Tassin, empathy (Panic-sadness), developed by Decety, and consciousness (consciousness-happiness), developed by Damasio.

Several studies on myelination (Kinney, 1988, Parazzini, 2002, Deoni, 2012), Miller, 2012, and Welker, 2012) provide us with a scientific platform to determine the order of development of the neurohormonal circuits underlying basic emotions.

Neurohormonal circuits development begins at conception and will continue up until the age of 20-30 years. This article specifically addresses the first three years of life. It offers a systemic biopsychological perspective of basic emotions developed from the latest data in neuroscience. These informations have been integrated into a coherent whole that allows understanding the origin, the development and the functioning of basic emotions.

In addition to the information output from the thalamus to the midbrain that set in motion the somatic nervous system there exist, according to Roberge (1998), two other brain information sources that are managed by the hypothalamus (the limbic system). These two information sources allow the refining of the behavioural responses and they favour the homeostasis of the organism. The first information source goes from the midbrain to the hypothalamus to activate the peripheral nervous system. The latter is divided into two: the sympathetic (norepinephrine) that accelerates the motor response and the parasympathetic (acetylcholine), which slows it down. These two systems work in tandem. As for the second release of information, it is endocrine, thus it will follow the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis to cortisol, the hypothalamus-pituitary axis to endorphin and oxytocin and the hypothalamus-pineal axis to melatonin. The different emotional behaviours result from one of these two sources of information or from a combination of these two and are then managed by the limbic system, which is in continuous connection with the neocortex.

In short, no specific centre totally controls human behaviour. Control is achieved through a group of brain structures and relays, permitting adaptive behaviour and maintenance of balance by means of permanent exchanges. Anger, for instance, is a survival emotion, which allows protecting one’s physical integrity. It is very useful as an immediate response in an emergency situation, but it can also be harmful if it is used extensively in all situations, giving way to conduct disorders. Thus, the other neurohormonal circuits will regulate anger.

Emotions are an integral part of human behaviour. They allow the individual to constantly adapt to the physical and social environment. This approach brings a new perspective to understand how each person maintains balance to avoid the onset of clinical disorders. The understanding of neurochemical mechanisms underlying basic emotions opens up the door to several clinical applications.

Keywords: emotions, neurohormonal circuits, neuroscience, balance

Auteur : Benoît Poisson
Titre : Perspective biopsychologique systémique des émotions de base
Revue : Santé mentale au Québec, Volume 40, numéro 3, automne 2015, p. 223-244

DOI : 10.7202/1034920ar

Tous droits réservés © Département de psychiatrie de l’Université de Montréal, 2016

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