News

Finnish research team reveals how emotions are mapped in the body

Researchers Aalto University have revealed how emotions are experienced in the body.
aalto_university_research_sci_emotionbodies_web_en.jpg

Emotions adjust our mental and also bodily states to cope with the challenges detected in the environment. These sensations arising from the bodily changes are an important feature of our emotional experiences. For example, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body. New research from Aalto University reveals, how emotions are literally experienced through the body.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.

- Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way the prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities such as pleasurable social interactions present in the environment. Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger the conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness, tells assistant professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Aalto University.

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

The research was carried out on line, and over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan took part in the study. The researchers induced different emotional states in their Finnish and Taiwanese participants. Subsequently the participants were shown with pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to colour the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing.

The research was funded by European Research Council (ERC), The Academy of Finland and the Aalto University (aivoAALTO project)

The results were published on 31 December (U.S. Eastern time) in the scientific journal  Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).

Original publication:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111.full.pdf+html?with-ds=yes

Figure caption: Different emotions are associated with discernible patterns of bodily sensations.

Contact information:
Assistant Professor Lauri Nummenmaa
Aalto University and Turku PET Centre
[email protected]
p. +358 50 431 9931

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

people exploring the walk-in closet that provides solutions for a sustainable fashion and textiles future
Cooperation, Research & Art, University Published:

'Wardrobe of the future' – sustainable solutions for the fashion and textile industry

The exhibition is showcasing solutions from researchers and students on sustainable future for the fashion and textile industry.
FinnFusion is a collaboration aiming to make fusion energy a reality. Photo: VTT.
Cooperation, Press releases, Research & Art Published:

Aalto Scientists Experiment with Helium Plasma to Help Pave Way for Fusion Energy

As part of FinnFusion, itself belonging to the EUROfusion consortium, Aalto scientists are experimenting with helium plasma to improve the future operations of Iter, an international fusion energy collaboration under construction in France.
Kuvassa näkyy Taloudenpuolustuskurssin puhujia keskustelemassa lavalla.
Research & Art Published:

Eighth Economic Defence Course digged into the topic of risk

For professors at the School of Business, times of radical uncertainty call for efforts to outline alternative scenarios and a critical perspective on talk of a ‘new era’.
Electronics - ICT Otaniemessä. Mikroelektroniikan suunnittelua.
Research & Art Published:

The EU funds a consortium with almost EUR 20 million in future radar research

Aalto University participates in the ARTURE consortium, which is funded by the European Defence Fund (EDF).