How Emotions Affect The Body

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Most of us are already well aware of the fact that emotions are felt in the mind and the body. But new research is proving this to be true. Most common emotions trigger bodily sensations and bodily maps of these sensations are very different for each emotion. For example, feelings of anxiety create pain in the chest. And the clenched fist reaction to anger is universal.

“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 on Science Daily.

Researchers mapped simple emotions like happiness and anger as well as more complex emotions like depression, envy, and shame. Emotions like pride are shown with glowing orange and red bursts felt in the head, chest, and shoulders. Contempt is shown with a bright pang of red and orange in the head and darkness in the body. Depression is represented with cooling blue felt in the legs and arms with darkness in the chest and love is shown with a warming sensation that runs the entire body.

how emotions affect the body

“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.”

Researchers carried out several experiments on 700 individuals in Finland, Sweden, and Taiwan by inducing several emotional states and asking participants to color bodily regions into a computer program where they felt the least or the most activity.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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