Activitas Nervosa Superior

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 8–17 | Cite as

The High-Order and Conscious Emotion: Assessing the Foundations, Contributions, and Implications of LeDoux’s Model of Conscious and Cognitive Emotion

  • Luiz Augusto Rosa
Ideas and Perpectives


In the literature on emotion, it is common to associate this phenomenon with unconscious and/or subcortical mechanisms directly linked to survival circuits, which is recurringly called “traditional view of emotion.” However, LeDoux and Brown have recently proposed that emotion is a high-order and cortical process carried out by what he calls general networks of cognition (GNC), which consists mainly of prefrontal mechanisms. Here, I assess the new ideas brought by this model to the field. I assess on what this model is based, its explanatory power, and what it means for the interpretation and discussion of empirical data. I also discuss how LeDoux and Brown's model of conscious emotion explains and interprets some recurring topics in the literature on emotion, such as nonhuman emotional experience, prefrontal functioning, freezing behavior, emotion regulation, and pleasure mechanisms. Above all, my goal is to provide theoretical tools for empirical and theoretical discussions on this recent issue.


Emotion Cognition Consciousness High-order representation Theoretical model HOTEC 


Funding Information

This paper was supported by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Philosophy and SciencesSão Paulo State University (UNESP)São PauloBrazil

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