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Researchers Reveal How Emotions Are Mapped in the Body

Researchers Reveal How Emotions Are Mapped in the Body  A new study reveals how emotions are experienced throughout the body.

For example, say researchers from Aalto University in Finland, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, while falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations. They also noted that the “map” of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions.

The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, according to the researchers. They also suggest that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.

The research was carried out online, with more than 700 people from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan taking part in the study.

The researchers said they first induced different emotional states in the participants. Then, the participants were shown pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to color the body regions where they felt activity increasing or decreasing.

The researchers said they found that emotions adjust not only our mental but also our bodily states. This prepares us to react swiftly to danger, but also to the opportunities, such as pleasurable social interactions, in the environment, according to the researchers.

Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness, added Lauri Nummenmaa, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Aalto University.

“The findings have major implications for our understanding of the functions of emotions and their bodily basis,” said Nummenmaa. “On the other hand, the results help us to understand different emotional disorders and provide novel tools for their diagnosis.”

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).

Source: Aalto University 

Researchers Reveal How Emotions Are Mapped in the Body

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Researchers Reveal How Emotions Are Mapped in the Body. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from
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Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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