Lisa Feldman Barrett

The experiences you carry with you from your past greatly affect how you respond in the future. We are constantly feeding our brain data based on the world and circumstances we live in. Based on these experiences, our brain is able to formulate a ‘best guess’ and, thus, we form our responses. But are we really in control of our responses? Does our brain truly know anything or is everything our brain concludes merely just a ‘best guess’ and nothing more? On this episode of Conversations with Tom, Tom joins neuroscientist, psychologist, and author Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett to discuss such matters and more as they explore how the human brain develops it’s responses to the world and why it’s important for us to not only understand it for our own sake, but for the benefit of others as well. They discuss the difference between emotion and affect, how our brains develop during childhood, how culture is built into our brains, how concepts are formed and used within our brains, what our body budgets are, and why we should be always approach each other with empathy and compassion first.

Order Lisa’s Book, ‘Seven and a Half Lessons About The Brain’:


Intro | Tom introduces today’s guest, neuroscientist, and author Lisa Feldman Barrett. [0:03]

Emotions | Lisa discusses the key differences between experiencing emotion and affect. [0:39]

Brain Guesses | Lisa breaks down how our brains process data to inform us how to feel. [9:07]

Sense Data | Lisa shares how our brain processes our senses and the fidelity of each. [11:04]

Semantic | Lisa reveals why the notion that we don’t experience emotion isn’t semantic. [19:59]

Development | Lisa discusses the early development and wiring of a baby’s brain. [25:34]

Culture | Lisa discusses how our cultures are developed into us at an early age. [31:04]

Usability | Lisa breaks down culture and how they serve us in our pursuit of our goals. [37:31]

Concepts | Lisa discusses what concepts are and how they work in our mind’s eye. [42:21]

Change | Lisa shares how experiences have the power to change our brain’s function. [47:51]

Stuck in the Past | Lisa discusses why people are stuck on past experiences. [54:30]

Body Budget | Lisa shares what your body budget is and how you balance it. [57:19]

Deficits | Lisa discusses the traits of today’s world that drains our body budgets. [1:03:53]

Give and Take | Lisa shares how we influence and balance each other’s body budgets. [1:11:46]

Responsibility | Lisa shares why we need to educate ourselves on body budgets. [1:16:52]

Little Things | Lisa shares the things we should be mindful of for a more fulfilling life. [1:23:23]

Different Paths | Lisa discusses the benefits and disadvantages of a zen approach. [1:25:19]

Debate | Lisa discusses our current political system and how we speak to each other. [1:29:20]

Goals | Lisa discusses how we prioritize in pursuit of achieving our goals. [1:37:58]

Empathy | Lisa shares the practice of approaching people with compassion. [1:42:36]

Closing | Tom shares his final thoughts and the power of Lisa’s teachings. [1:49:10]



“…there is no “just the cultural interpretation.” When your brain is making a prediction about what something means, that is a very sensory motor prediction, there is no culture laid on top.” [32:11]

“When your brain is making a prediction, it’s using regularities from experience in your past. And if you live in a particular culture, your regulators are going to be really different than somebody in a different culture.” [46:14]

“The important thing to understand is that every experience you have has the capacity to, even a little bit, change your brain’s function in the future.” [53:35]






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