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Heath, R.G. (1992). Correlation of Brain Activity with Emotion: A Basis for Developing Treatment of Violent-Aggressive Behavior. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 20(3):335-346.

(1992). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 20(3):335-346

Correlation of Brain Activity with Emotion: A Basis for Developing Treatment of Violent-Aggressive Behavior

Robert G. Heath, M.D., D.M.SCI.

The important role of emotion in determining adaptive and maladaptive behavior is well documented in psychoanalytic theory and practice. Since emotion is both subjective and objective, it has constituted an effective bridge in our attempts to establish correlates of mental activity with brain activity.

Our most effective approach in determining the neural basis for emotion has involved the use of chronic deep electrodes. Our program for implanting electrodes into predetermined deep brain sites of patients with intractable behavioral and neurological illnesses began in 1950 (Heath and the Tulane University Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, 1954). Our original aim in using this technique in patients was to develop an efficacious treatment for schizophrenia, as well as an understanding of the associated alterations in brain function.

Treatments being used at the time, including lobotomy, failed to correct the basic psychopathology of schizophrenia, specifically, the impaired mechanism for emotion. Animal experiments in our laboratory and those conducted by other investigators suggested that the neuroanatomic localization for emotion was largely subcortical. On the basis of these findings, we hypothesized that stimulation to specific subcortical sites—particularly the septal region or basal forebrain—might be effective in alleviating the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia.

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