These sensations, arising from the bodily changes, are an important feature of our emotional experiences, says a new study.
A team of researchers from Aalto University in Finland found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations – like anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body.
The research, conducted over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan, highlighted that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.
The researchers induced different emotional states in the participants. They were subsequently shown pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to colour the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing. The results were encouraging.
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.
“Awareness of the bodily changes may trigger conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness,” said assistant professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Aalto University in Finland.
These findings signify not only the bodily basis of the functions of emotions but may also help us to understand different emotional disorders and provide novel tools for their diagnosis, said the study appeared in the scientific journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences.
“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,” concluded the study.