Feelings are mental experiences of body states. They signify physiological need (i.e. hunger), tissue injury (i.e. pain), optimal organism function (i.e. well-being), responds to threats (i.e. fear or anger) or specific social interactions (i.e. compassion, gratitude or love). Feelings constitute a crucial component of the mechanisms of both simple and complex life regulation. The neural substrates of feelings can be found at all levels of the nervous system, from individual neurons to subcortical nuclei and cortical regions. We believe that (a) unmyelinated axons play a critical role in the generation of feeling states, (b) that non-synaptic signaling is an unrecognized key to the process of feeling, and that (c) the integration of neural and non-neural processes benefits from the equally unrecognized extent of the gaps in the blood-brain barrier.

Other feeling related projects include attempts to map brain-stem nuclei involved in affective processes.



Antonio Damasio, MD, PhD

Gil Carvalho, MD, PhD

Hanna Damasio, MD

Max Henning



Damasio, A., Carvalho, G. B. (2013) The nature of feelings: evolutionary and neurobiological origins. Nature Reviews Neuroscience (14), 143-152.

Carvalho, G., Mulpuri, Y., Damasio, A., & Spiegelman, I. (2016). The role of ionotropic glutamate receptors in non-synaptic cross-depolarization in the mammalian dorsal root ganglion. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting 2016, San Diego, CA

Damasio, A. The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures, Pantheon, 2018.