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Discover the body map of emotions

Discover the body map of emotions

June 24, 2024

A team of Finnish scientists has managed to generate a Body map showing human emotions . These researchers from the University of Aalto discovered that each emotion generates specific responses in specific body areas, these reactions being independent of the cultural substrate of the subject.

The body map of human emotions

Accordingly, the Finnish researchers came to the conclusion that This map of emotions suggests that human emotional responses have a biological basis and are universal .

The study explains that the emotional reactions of the human body are biological mechanisms that enable us to respond to a changing context, empowering us to defend our integrity or to enjoy good times.


According Lauri Nummenmaa , professor of neuroscience and one of the outstanding members of the team that carried out the research, the emotions modulate not only the mental health of the subject, but also the corporal state of the same.

"Thus, emotions prepare us to be able to respond almost instinctively to dangers, and enable us to react in other contexts, such as the enjoyment of social interactions," he adds.

Map of emotions: happiness and love

To carry out the research, a total of 5 experiments were carried out in which 700 subjects had to locate in which part of the body they felt each of the basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, sadness or happiness, as well as other more complex emotions. , such as anxiety, depression, pride, envy or shame.


The participants of the study colored in a mannequin the areas that were activated to a greater or lesser degree as they were listening to certain words that were associated with each of the emotions. Red designated areas with greater activity, while blue did the same with areas of less influence.

It can be seen in the image, that the two emotions that cause a more intense body response are love and joy.

In the same way, it can be seen as, broadly speaking, all the basic emotions are located in the upper part of the trunk , where the vital organs are located, and very prominently in the head.

"Taking a look at the topography of bodily emotions will allow us to devise a tool for the study of emotions, it is possible that this tool could, in the future, offer a relationship of biological signs of certain emotional disorders," the researchers affirm.


Parallel to the test that tried to evoke emotions from words, four other experiments were also carried out using images, photographs, stories and short films that aimed to convey the same emotions to the participants.

Universal emotions? The study points to "yes"

In order to make sure that the body map of the emotions was independent of the cultural substratum or linguistic group to which the subjects were part, the study was repeated with three different ethnic and cultural groups: Finns, Swedes and Taiwanese.

The researchers agreed that the results showed coincidences beyond the cultural origin of the participants: it seems, therefore, that the bodily reaction to emotions is universal.

Bibliographic references:

  • Original study: Lauri Nummenmaaa, Enrico Glereana, Riitta Harib, and Jari K. Hietanend (2013)

Which Parts Of The Brain Do What? (June 2024).


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