Best of Series: Surprising Truths about the Human Brain || Lisa Feldman Barrett

November 9, 2023

This episode is part of The Psychology Podcast’s “Best of Series”, where we highlight some of the most exciting, enthralling, and enlightening episodes from our archives.

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett is among the top one percent most cited scientists in the world for her revolutionary research in psychology and neuroscience. She is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University. She also holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she is Chief Science Officer for the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior.

Her books include Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain and How Emotions are Made. She has published over 240 peer-reviewed, scientific papers appearing in Science, Nature Neuroscience, and other top journals. Dr. Barrett has been called “the most important affective scientist of our time”. 

In this episode, I talk to renowned neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett about emotions and the brain. She reveals what the true function of the brain isand it’s not for thinking. We also discuss the impact of past experiences on our cognition and what we can do to overcome our own detrimental patterns. Further into our discussion, Dr. Lisa challenges the traditionally held view that emotions are universal. In her own theory of constructed emotion, she argues that variability in emotional expression exists due to socialization and language differences. We also touch on the topics of hallucinogens, culture, education, relationships, and authoritarianism. 

Website: lisafeldmanbarrett.com

Twitter: @LFeldmanBarrett


  • Lisa’s interest in clinical psychology
  • A biological approach to emotions
  • Why do we have a neocortex?
  • The default mode network
  • The brain is not for thinking
  • Authoritarianism during economic hardship
  • Psychological entropy
  • The brain as a weather forecast machine
  • The mind-brain problem
  • Relationships are reflexive
  • Emotional expression isn’t universal
  • Why you shouldn’t trust psychology textbooks
  • Reaching out to Paul Ekman
  • The theory of constructed emotion
  • The role of socialization and language in emotions
  • The never-ending domain-general vs domain-specific debate in cognitive science

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