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Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way they prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to opportunities

Emotions mapped on the body. Credit: Aalto University and Turku PET Centre.

‘Falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body’.

As would falling in custard.


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

falling in love may

trigger warm, pleasurable

sensations all over the

body

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.

Common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations

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 they 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.Emotions mapped on the body. Credit: Aalto University and Turku PET Centre.

Emotional disorders

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 online, 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.

Source: Aalto University
Image: Aalto University and Turku PET Centre.

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