Cognitive Computation

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Emotion: A Unified Mechanistic Interpretation from a Cognitive Architecture

  • Ron Sun
  • Nick Wilson
  • Michael Lynch


This paper reviews a project that attempts to interpret emotion, a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, from a mechanistic point of view, facilitated by an existing comprehensive computational cognitive architecture—CLARION. This cognitive architecture consists of a number of subsystems: the action-centered, non-action-centered, motivational, and metacognitive subsystems. From this perspective, emotion is, first and foremost, motivationally based. It is also action-oriented. It involves many other identifiable cognitive functionalities within these subsystems. Based on these functionalities, we fit the pieces together mechanistically (computationally) within the CLARION framework and capture a variety of important aspects of emotion as documented in the literature.


Emotion Cognitive architecture Psychology Computational 



This work has been supported in part by the ONR Grants N00014-08-1-0068 and N00014-13-1-0342.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ron Sun, Nick Wilson, and Michael Lynch declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008 (5). Additional informed consent was obtained from all patients for which identifying information is included in this article.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Sciences DepartmentRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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