Body Atlas Reveals Where We Feel Happiness, Shame, Anger and Sadness

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New research reveals that human emotions are universally associated with certain bodily sensations, regardless of individuals’ culture or language.

Researchers have composed an atlas of emotions that are tied to a range of physiological changes humans experience, Discover Magazine reports.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at more than 700 participants in Finland, Sweden and Taiwan who mapped their bodily sensations in connection with specific emotions.

Participants viewed words associated with emotion, videos, facial expressions and stories. They then reported the areas of their bodies that felt different than before they viewed the material.

“They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each [material],” according to the study.

Researchers found statistically discrete areas for each emotion tested, such as happiness, contempt and love.

Researchers did find several areas of overlap, even though each emotion produced a specific map of bodily sensation. Emotions of anger and fear caused an increase in sensation in the upper chest area, while happiness was the only emotion tested that increased sensation all over the body.

Researchers hope that further experimentation with these maps can lead to identifying and treating emotional disorders.

Sources: Discover Magazine, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences