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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 14;111(2):646-51. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321664111. Epub 2013 Dec 30.

Bodily maps of emotions.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science and Brain Research Unit, O. V. Lounasmaa Laboratory, School of Science, Aalto University, FI-00076, Espoo, Finland.

Abstract

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 (n = 701) 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 statistically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples. Statistical classifiers distinguished emotion-specific activation maps accurately, confirming independence of topographies across emotions. We propose that emotions are represented in the somatosensory system as culturally universal categorical somatotopic maps. Perception of these emotion-triggered bodily changes may play a key role in generating consciously felt emotions.

KEYWORDS:

embodiment; feelings; somatosensation

PMID:
24379370
PMCID:
PMC3896150
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1321664111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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