ONYEJIUWA CHIZARAM RITA
Question chosen- Hormones play a very important role in regulating emotion and in directing animal behavior
I strongly believe that hormones play a very important role in regulating emotions and I would give my reasons in this presentation.
A hormone is a substance which is produced in the body that regulates the activity of certain cells or organs. Hormones are produced from the endocrine glands into the blood, where they travel to act on their target organs. Examples of hormones are adrenaline, serotonin, testosterone, estrogen and dopamine.
An emotion is a response by a whole organism involving; subjective experience, expressive behaviors and a physiological response. There are six basic emotions that are common to animals; disgust, fear, anger, surprise, sadness and happiness (Ekman,1972) Behavior is a response to internal and external stimuli. It is also a function that is observable.
Hormones are silent drivers of emotions and behavior. The behavior of animals consists of three interacting components: sensory system, the central nervous system, effectors (e.g. muscles). Hormones may influence behavior by affecting one, two, or all three of these components. Various psychologists have proven that some hormones are linked with specific traits and behavior. Hormones affect animals in different ways throughout their life and they cause emotions transitions. Hormones also coordinate the psychology of animals by regulating and controlling bodily functions. In the following paragraphs I would be explaining how specific hormones regulate emotion and behavior.
Adrenaline is a hormone which is produced in the adrenal glands and it is released into the blood stream to send nerve impulses to different cells and organs. In a situation of danger or fear, Adrenaline is immediately released into the blood sending impulses to organs to create a certain response. The main effect of this hormone is preparing the organism for ‘fight or flight’ response. The main actions of adrenaline include increasing blood pressure, increasing the heart rate, increasing strength and performance, expanding the air passages of the lungs, dilation of the pupils, raising the blood sugar level. Adrenaline also causes the blood vessels to redirect blood toward major organs like the heart and lungs. As a result of adrenaline, the organism’s ability to feel pain is decreased, which explains one can continue running from danger even when injured. In higher animals this hormone can be produced when the body is under stress but not facing real danger. This can cause dizziness and vison changes. High levels of adrenaline in the body can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, excessive sweating and palpitations. Low level of adrenaline is rare, but it limits the ability of the body t respond to situations of danger. Adrenaline can affect emotions depending on the level secreted, and thus influencing the behavior of the animal.
Serotonin is hormone which is produced in the nerve cells and it used to transmit messages between nerve cells. Serotonin also acts as a neurotransmitter in the body as well as a hormone. It impacts every part of the body and it helps to regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. When the level of serotonin is normal one feels happier, less anxious, calmer, and more emotionally stable. Serotonin regulates the levels of mood, fear, happiness, anxiety and general sense of well-being in animals. Hence low level of serotonin in the body may cause anxiety, insomnia, bi polar attitude, panic attacks, and depression. Even though it is not clear exactly what causes depression, studies have shown that there may be a link between deficiency of Serotonin and depression. Thus, Serotonin has a role in regulation animal emotions and behavior.
This is another very important hormone in animals and humans. Dopamine is involved in the function of organs like the heart and muscle control. It is also very similar function to serotonin in the sense that it promotes the wellbeing in animals. Dopamine also enables the animal to see rewards and increase motivation. The levels of dopamine in animals can result in both positive and negative emotions. Deficiency of dopamine can result in feeling demotivated, mood swings, inability to focus, and attention deficit disorder. The right balance of dopamine in animals is important for both emotional and mental wellbeing.
Testosterone has an influence on emotions and behavior in men and women. High levels of testosterone lead to reduced social anxiety, confidence, and greater work capacity. High levels of testosterone in women can also lead to masculine features like deep voice and increased muscle mass. Also, studies have shown that women may be better at empathy than men because of the effects of testosterone in the brain.
In the previous paragraphs, I have shown how hormones can affect emotions which will in turn affect animal behavior.
However, I would also like to state that hormone is not the only factor that influences emotions and affect animal behavior. There are other factors that the hormones work with to influence animal behavior and I would be explaining some of them.
• Operant conditioning; Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a behavior and a consequence (Skinner,1938). Operant conditioning has proved to be very effective training animals and young children. So, operant conditioning influences the emotions and behavior of animals.
• Classical conditioning; This is a method of learning by which a subject responds in a certain way to a previously conditioned stimulus after the subject repeatedly encounters the conditioned stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus that already elicits the response. An example of this was carried out in an experiment. Albert was a boy in an experiment where fear was conditioned. The boy was not scared of a white rat but when the rat was paired with scared noises the boy became afraid of the rat. This method is also used in training animals because it can influence animal behavior.
I would also like to state that all the factors I have explained influence animal behaviors and emotions, but they cannot control animals and humans.
SUMMARY OF PRESENTATION
• I agree that hormones play a very important role in regulating emotions and in directing human behavior because the higher or lower level of hormones influence emotions and behavior of animals.
• From my research I agree that the relationship between hormones and behavior is reciprocal.
• However, animal behavior and emotions are not only affected by hormones, it can also be influenced by other factors like operant conditioning, classical conditioning, and evolution.
• Hormones do not control animals, but they can only influence how they behave.
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