Cannon-Bard Theory

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  • A theory of emotion developed in 1927 by Walter Cannon and Philip Bard. This theory defends the view that emotion-eliciting stimuli or events trigger physiological arousal and the experience of emotion simultaneously and independently. The Cannon-Bard theory suggests that emotions originate in the thalamus, which is the part of the brain that sends messages from the sensory organs to the autonomic nervous system, cerebral cortex, and skeletal muscles, thus affecting arousal, conscious thought, and motor behavior. For example, if you hear a sudden loud noise while at home alone, you may simultaneously feel afraid and experience heart palpitations. Cannon stated that bodily sensations alone could not evoke emotions. In fact, individuals who are injected with hormones that energize the body report feeling aroused but ...

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