The Dynamic Functional Capacity Theory: A neuropsychological model of intense emotions

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The music-evoked emotion literature implicates many brain regions involved in emotional processing but is currently lacking a model that specifically explains how they temporally and dynamically interact to produce intensely pleasurable emotions. A conceptual model, the dynamic functional capacity theory (DFCT), is proposed and provides a foundation for the further understanding of how brain regions interact to produce intensely pleasurable emotions. The DFCT claims that brain regions mediating emotion and arousal regulation have a limited functional capacity that can be exceeded by intense stimuli. The prefrontal cortex is hypothesized to abruptly deactivate when this happens, resulting in the inhibitory release of sensory cortices, the limbic system, the reward-circuit, and the brainstem reticular activating system, causing “unbridled” activation of these areas. This process is hypothesized to produce extremely intense emotions. This theory may provide—music-evoked emotion researchers and music therapy researchers -- a theoretical foundation for continued research and complement current theories of emotion.