Our proposal with Jarl Giske of the University of Bergen has been funded. Entitled, “Evolution and Emotion: How Adaptive Patterns of Emotion Lead to Emergent Properties of Cognition and Behavior”, this seed money grant will allow us to hold workshops in Berkeley and Bergen to explore the intersection between our research on emotions and the limbic system.  (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2016).


The goal of our project is to explore a potent intersection between two lines of research that up to now have been working in parallel tracks: the theoretical models of emotional and behavioral evolution in the Bergen group and the empirical and theoretical models of cognitive and brain evolution in the Berkeley group. Both groups study the function of the vertebrate limbic system, using theoretical models of fish behavior on the one hand, and behavioral and neuroscientific studies of spatial navigation using olfaction, the primary use of the limbic system, on the other. Both groups have recently published landmark theoretical studies on behavioral evolution. Giske et al. (2013) used principles of emotion to produce a model of behavioral evolution. In this model, the status of an individual’s emotional state is the lynchpin of its ability to adapt to different environments. This is the first time that emotion has been used to build such ecological models; the model is successful on many levels, including emergent properties such as personality. Jacobs (2012) instead addressed the evolution of the limbic system and its role in spatial navigation using olfaction.

Jacobs, L. F. (2012). From chemotaxis to the cognitive map: the function of olfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, 10693–10700. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1201880109

Giske, J., Eliassen, S., Fiksen, Ø., Jakobsen, P. J., Aksnes, D. L., Jørgensen, C., & Mangel, M. (2013). Effects of the Emotion System on Adaptive Behavior. The American Naturalist, 182(6), 689–703. http://doi.org/10.1086/673533