The 6th annual

Art and Science of Animal Training Conference

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

University of North Texas
Denton, Texas

9:00am – 6:30pm

Keynote Speaker:

The Scientific Case for Emotional Feelings in Other Animals: SEEKING New ‘Laws of Affect’ that Control Animal Learning/Training

Subcortical social-affective networks of mammalian brains have been evolutionarily designed to control learning and thinking in higher brain regions. Thus the neural understanding of core affective processes, homologous in all mammals, is of critical importance for appreciating how our higher mental processes, and social lives, are constructed through life experiences. Enormous advances have been made in the last few decades in understanding how primal emotions are organized in the brain, and how primary-process emotions control secondary-process learning and memory, which provide the essential ingredients for tertiary-process higher-order mental activities, which, unlike emotional states, are almost impossible to study neuroscientifically. This presentation will focus not only on how emotional feelings are created in the brain and how this provides a new understanding of the foundational nature of consciousness but also how shifting affective states control learning. The possible underlying mechanisms of clicker training will be highlighted. This knowledge is also helping us re-conceptualize the scientific foundations of psychiatry, which may lead to advances in the treatment of emotional disturbances in both humans and other animals. This presentation will also briefly focus on three new antidepressant therapies that have emerged from cross-species affective neuroscience research

2014 Art and Science of Animal Training Conference Program