ELi5 Where does feelings come from biologically?


Is it just the chemicals in our brains? Like I’m pretty sure guts don’t have that system.

In: 3

yes, chemicals and electric signals in the brain, mostly in deeper sections (not on the cortex where the rational thinking lives).

There is some research that stomach has its own nervous system that can affect the brain, but it is very slow and general: the suggestion is that unhealthy stomach can make you feel depressed, not make you do a specific action.

You’re asking one of the deepest questions about the mystery of consciousness and sentience. The fact is, we don’t really understand it yet. Some believe we are just a biological computer, and all experience comes from that alone. Others believe that our consciousness lies elsewhere and is some kind of quantum process.

it’s like this…

imagine you’re cooking rice. in a rice cooker, or on the stove, but you got the water boiling and the rice is added, and you are timing the shit out of it… this is normal. You’re applying heat to a pot to boil water for a certain amount of time to cook the rice.

If you increase the heat, it gets hotter (as far as water boiling point) and the rice cooks faster and maybe it’s not as fluffy as normal, or it starts to burn if you cook it too long.

If you turn down the heat, water won’t boils as much, and the rice won’t absorb as much water, and starches won’t cook. You get a wet mess and crunchy rice. If you want the rice to be cooked, and water reduced, you gotta leave it on the burner for much longer.

Your emotions are like the rice and the chemicals, or hormones, and electrical impulses is the heat, water, time, and environmental factors (humidity, air pressure, altitude)

Your brain by itself is just conducting electrical impulses and reacting, but if we add a dash of seratonin (heat in this example) then that brain is cooking some nice rice. If we add some cortisol (water in this example) then it throws off the entire system and you’re likely gonna have some rough rice.

Your emotions is the interpretation, and symptoms, of the effects the chemicals, and hormones, that affect your brain function(s) itself.

Your brain is actually all the neurons in your body, which goes actually goes down into your gut and may actually include your entire nervous system.

That being said, I’m not sure anybody has a way to explain feelings with 100% accuracy. We know that chemical response occurs in stressful situations, extra of those chemicals can make us react a certain way, that the gut biome might play a role. And that the gut subconscious feeling is something to be trusted (usually).

Go read [How Emotions Are Made](https://lisafeldmanbarrett.com/books/how-emotions-are-made/). I just finished it and it has completely changed my view of emotion. The punchline is this: emotion is your interpretation of the state of your body in your current situation. It’s not the *result* of the interpretation; it’s not the *cause* of the interpretation; it’s not *the same as* the interpretation; it’s the interpretation itself.

Thoughts can affect the state of the body, and you can then interpret that change as a different emotion… but the feeling is still the interpretation.