Luiz Pessoa

Luiz Pessoa is Professor of Psychology, member of the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Cognition and Emotion, and Director of the Maryland Neuroimaging Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

  • The Entangled Brain

    The Entangled Brain

    How Perception, Cognition, and Emotion Are Woven Together

    Luiz Pessoa

    A new vision of the brain as a fully integrated, networked organ.

    Popular neuroscience accounts often focus on specific mind-brain aspects like addiction, cognition, or memory, but The Entangled Brain tackles a much bigger question: What kind of object is the brain? Neuroscientist Luiz Pessoa describes the brain as a highly networked, interconnected system that cannot be neatly decomposed into a set of independent parts. One can't point to the brain and say, “This is where emotion happens” (or any other mental faculty). Pessoa argues that only by understanding how large-scale neural circuits combine multiple and diverse signals can we truly appreciate how the brain supports the mind.

    Presenting the brain as an integrated organ and drawing on neuroscience, computation, mathematics, systems theory, and evolution, The Entangled Brain explains how brain functions result from cross-cutting brain processing, not the function of segregated areas. Parts of the brain work in a coordinated fashion across large-scale distributed networks in which disparate parts of the cortex and the subcortex work simultaneously to bring about behaviors. Pessoa intuitively explains the concepts needed to formalize this idea of the brain as a complex system and how to unleash powerful understandings built with “collective computations.”

    • Paperback $40.00
  • The Cognitive-Emotional Brain

    The Cognitive-Emotional Brain

    From Interactions to Integration

    Luiz Pessoa

    A study that goes beyond the debate over functional specialization to describe the ways that emotion and cognition interact and are integrated in the brain.

    The idea that a specific brain circuit constitutes the emotional brain (and its corollary, that cognition resides elsewhere) shaped thinking about emotion and the brain for many years. Recent behavioral, neuropsychological, neuroanatomy, and neuroimaging research, however, suggests that emotion interacts with cognition in the brain. In this book, Luiz Pessoa moves beyond the debate over functional specialization, describing the many ways that emotion and cognition interact and are integrated in the brain.

    The amygdala is often viewed as the quintessential emotional region of the brain, but Pessoa reviews findings revealing that many of its functions contribute to attention and decision making, critical components of cognitive functions. He counters the idea of a subcortical pathway to the amygdala for affective visual stimuli with an alternate framework, the multiple waves model. Citing research on reward and motivation, Pessoa also proposes the dual competition model, which explains emotional and motivational processing in terms of their influence on competition processes at both perceptual and executive function levels. He considers the broader issue of structure-function mappings, and examines anatomical features of several regions often associated with emotional processing, highlighting their connectivity properties. As new theoretical frameworks of distributed processing evolve, Pessoa concludes, a truly dynamic network view of the brain will emerge, in which "emotion" and "cognition" may be used as labels in the context of certain behaviors, but will not map cleanly into compartmentalized pieces of the brain.

    • Hardcover $45.00