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'Body atlas' reveals where different emotions are physically felt

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 The 'Body Atlas' shows the regions in which humans typically feel specific emotions resonating within them. (Lauri Nummenmaa / Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences)


Some say that too much pride will go to your head, that love can make the heart swell, or that sadness is a feeling in the pit of your stomach -- and you know what? They may just be right.

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland recently explored the ways in which emotions are felt throughout the human body as part of a study called "Bodily Maps of Emotions."

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences last month, surveyed over 700 people from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan to find out how emotionally charged stimuli made their bodies react.

Participants were shown emotionally affective stories, movies, words and facial expressions before researchers asked them to mark, on a computer-generated model of the human silhouette, where they felt specific emotions.

When volunteers sensed that one emotion was particularly strong in a certain area of the body, they would colour that body part with shades of red and yellow. When the sensation was weak, they used shades of blue.

The resulting "body atlas" constructed by researchers is fascinating many around the web this week, and its implications, they say, could help scientists better understand and treat different emotional disorders in the future.

"Emotions adjust not only our mental, but our bodily states," said assistant professor Lauri Nummenmaa in an Aalto University press release. "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."

Do you pay attention to the ways in which emotions affect your body? Share your thoughts and observations below.

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