The Semantic Pointer Theory of Emotion: Integrating Physiology, Appraisal, and Construction

Cognitive Systems Research, 2019

Ivana Kajić, Tobias Schröder, Terrence C. Stewart, Paul Thagard


Emotion theory needs to explain the relationship of language and emotions, and the embodiment of emotions, by specifying the computational mechanisms underlying emotion generation in the brain. We used Chris Eliasmith’s Semantic Pointer Architecture to develop POEM, a computational model that explains numerous important phenomena concerning emotions, including how some stimuli generate immediate emotional reactions, how some emotional reactions depend on cognitive evaluations, how bodily states influence the generation of emotions, how some emotions depend on interactions between physiological inputs and cognitive appraisals, and how some emotional reactions concern syntactically complex representations. We contrast our theory with current alternatives, and discuss some possible applications to individual and social emotions.

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Cognitive Systems Research


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