The Chemisty of Emotions

La Chimie des Emotions 


A book similar to a work of art with the text (in French) of Sebastien Bowler and the photos of Veronique Durruty. Published by Aubanel in 2007.


Un livre qui ressemble à une œuvre d’art avec le texte de Sebastien Bowler (journaliste scientifique de Cerveau et Psycho) et les photos de Véronique Durruty. Editions Aubanel 2007.

(lien commercial - Amazon)








Book Index / Sommaire du livre 


Positive Emotions - Negative Emotions






Pleasure of "Reward" in evolutionary terms is the common denominator of positive emotions


Reading notes from the book "La Chimie de nos émotions" de Sébastian Bohler [SB] (Photos of Véronique Durruty) published by Aubanel 
and additional personal notes [*].


Joy, happiness, love...
What is the common denominator of these positive feelings?
“Pleasure”, the elementary positive emotion.
In evolutionary terms, “Reward” for ensuring the survival of our species.

[SB] Scientists have understood how pleasure is fabricated in our brain.


[SB] What is the fundamental distinction between positive emotions, such as joy, happiness and love and negative ones such as sorrow, unhappiness, fear and hate?


[SB] It appears that this lies in a pair of two small structures of the brain in the size of an almond, the amygdalae (from the greek name for almond). There is one in the right hemisphere of the brain and one in the left.


[SB] A team of neurologists in the hospital of Marseille had recently implanted electrodes in the right and left amygdalae of patients that had to undergo neurosurgery. They found out that when they were electrically stimulating the left amygdala the patients were experiencing a sense of well-being, which represents a positive emotion, and when they were stimulating the left they had negative emotions such as fear, sorrow and anxiety.


[*] In 1954 two American psychologists, James Olds and Peter Milner, identify a brain zone which provides pleasure, the septal area (found near the hypothalamus). They implant electrodes in different regions of the rat brain and connect them to a lever that the rats can press to receive an electrical discharge. They observe that the rats will repeatedly seek the electrical stimulation of the septal area. In 1956, they will discover that the same applies for the nucleus accumbens (or nucleus accumbens septi = nucleus adjacent to the septum).



Reference for this paragraph:


[SB] When we feel pleasure there is a specific molecule that is liberated from our brain, dopamine. Dopamine circulates in a specific group of neurons which is called the "reward system". This includes parts of the basal ganglia, such as the caudate nucleus, the putamen and the ventral palladium, the nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegmental area and the orbitofrontal cortex.


[SB] Why it is called a "reward system"? Because this system of neurons is activated each time we do something that favors our survival or the survival of our species. For example it is activated when we eat (which is the fundamental condition for our survival), when we reproduce (which is essential for the survival of our species) and when we succeed in an exam (in the same way our ancestors would succeed in finding their prey when hunting). The aesthetic pleasure that we experience when we observe lovely sceneries such as sunsets and natural landscapes is also linked to the activation of our reward system.





Positive Emotions




Pleasure / Le Plaisir


"When we feel pleasure, our brain liberates dopamine."

"Lorsqu’ on ressent du plaisir, notre cerveau libère de la dopamine."





Love / Amour


Oxytocin is the hormone of attachment

Love for a lifetime?


L’Ocytocine est l’hormone de l’attachement

L’amour, toute la vie ?