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After a brief review of the history of affective neuroscience and the theoretical status of emotion in contemporary neuroscience, it will be argued that present day neuroscience suffers from a serious theoretical limitation that is largely due to its focus on short-term observation and reliance on laboratory measurement technologies that restrict it to the study of affective states of short duration. Consequently we have very little theoretical understanding of how short term affective states, like emotions, are organized into complex networks that evolve overtime, forming complex affective processes of long duration, in which individual emotions are organized in law-like ways. The solution is to reintroduce the vocabulary and study of long term ‘passions’ into neuroscience and distinguish these from the individual emotions which they direct and organize.


charlandLouis Charland came to Western in the Summer of 1998. His previous job was at the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University in Montreal, where he was a member of the Biomedical Ethics Unit and the Clinical Trials Research Group. While at McGill, he taught in the Master’s Specialization Program in Bioethics and served on the Research Ethics Board of the Douglas Psychiatric Hospital.

Prior to his appointment to McGill, he taught philosophy and bioethics at the University of Toronto. During that time, he served as a Research Associate at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics. in 1993-1994, he worked as bioethicist at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.

In addition to academic and hospital experience, he has also worked as a research and program evaluation consultant for the Government of Ontario’s Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. The Council was a “think-tank” created to plan for the future of healthcare in Ontario. It was first created and chaired by Premier David Peterson and subsequently chaired by Premier Bob Rae. During his stay with the Premier’s Council he authored several reports on the Council’s Health Innovation Fund and traveled extensively as an evaluator and research consultant for the Fund. His experience as a consultant also includes work with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and the Mental Health Branch of the Ministry of Health. ”

Read more about Louis Charland.


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This event is co-sponsored with the London Public Library and the Western Department of Philosophy.

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