Heatmaps Reveal Where Humans Feel Emotions
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Dr. Craig's Blog

Heatmaps Reveal Where Humans Feel Emotions

It’s well known that attitudes, emotions and feelings affect our body in a variety of ways. For example, feelings of hopelessness affect the body’s hormone system and change the chemical flows within our brains. Different emotional states act as triggers that impact our biology in a variety of ways. Brain activity changes during different emotional states. The list goes on and on.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science   demonstrates that different emotional states trigger different physical sensations on the body. Emotions such as anger, impacted the body in a different area compared to the emotion of fear, disgust, happiness, love, depression, and more. Each individual emotion had it’s own unique part of the body that correlated with it. The study was conducted at Aalto University by a team of bio-medical engineers. 700 volunteers from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan participated in the study.

“Emotions are often felt in the body, and somatosensory feedback has been proposed to trigger conscious emotional experiences. Here we reveal maps of bodily sensations associated with different emotions using a unique topographical self-report method. In five experiments, participants were shown two silhouettes of bodies alongside emotional words, stories, movies, or facial expressions. They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each stimulus. Different emotions were consistently associated with statically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples.”

Regardless of race, gender, different emotional states correlated with the same part of the body with the majority of participants.  Usually when you have a group as large as 700 people, your going to get pretty reliable and conclusive results.

“Emotions adjust not only our mental, but 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.” Lauri Nummenmaa, assistant professor in an Aalto University press release. This study is yet another important reminder of how emotions can impact the body.

Do you pay attention to the ways in which emotions affect your body, health, and others around you? Finding your inner peace is a great way to improve your health. How can we let go of emotions that don’t serve us? Let’s take anger for example. Imagine that you are carrying a tank of gasoline, and whatever it is in your external world that upsets you, is the match. These can be concepts, thoughts, people, etc. All you have to do is empty and let go of the tank of gasoline, and the matches can’t start a blaze. You are always in control of your emotions, your reactions are always your choice.

It starts with looking at yourself from an external perspective. Nobody else is to blame for your different emotional states but yourself, although it might not always seem that way. Did you know that your heart emits electromagnetic fields that change according to your emotions? That the human heart’s magnetic field can be measured up to several feet away from the body? That positive emotions create physiological benefits in your body? That you can boost your immune system by conjuring positive emotions? That negative emotions can create a nervous system chaos, but positive emotions do the opposite?

For more information on this, check out the tremendous work that scientists and researchers are doing at The Instutue of Hearthmath

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