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NMSU biopsychologist to discuss, sign new book

Victor Johnston, a New Mexico State University biopsychologist, will discuss and sign his new book on the development of human feelings at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at the Sunland Park Barnes and Noble Booksellers in El Paso, Texas.

In "Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions," Johnston explores human nature and the origin of human emotions. He draws on computer science, neurobiology and evolutionary psychology to demonstrate that emotions are the basis of learning and reasoning and they help humans adapt to a complex, rapidly changing environment.

According to Johnston, our senses are not an accurate representation of the world around us; they are illusions, shaped by millions of years of evolution. For example, an apple looks red and tastes sweet. But in fact the sugar molecule is not sweet, Johnston said. We have linked sugar with being sweet because an apple is healthy and helps us to survive.

"We like good things," Johnston said, "and what senses do for us in the physical world, emotions do for the social world." He believes humans have evolved feelings such as guilt, pleasure and fear to help us survive in a world with others.

David Buss, author of "The Evolution of Desire," called Johnston's book, "a superbly written book with new insights into human emotions and aesthetics. A must read for those interested in the complexities of the human mind."

"Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions" was written for a general science reader, Johnston said. Published by Perseus Press, the book sells for $26. Copies will be available at Barnes and Noble, which is located at 705 Sunland Park Dr.