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EarthSky // Human World, Science Wire Release Date: Jan 02, 2014

Where we experience emotions in our bodies

Researchers found consistent results, even across cultures. For example, anxiety might feel like chest pain, while falling in love might trigger body-wide sensations.

Via Aalto University

View larger. | Body locations where research participants felt basic emotions (top row) and more complex ones (bottom row). Hot colors show regions that people say are stimulated during the emotion. Cool colors indicate deactivated areas. Via Aalto University

We all know that emotions can trigger strong bodily sensations. A new study from Aalto University looked at where we experience these sensation in our body. Researchers found surprisingly consistent results, even across cultures. For example, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body.

The research was carried out online, and over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan took part in the study. The researchers induced different emotional states in the participants, then participants were shown pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to color the regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing.

The results were published on December 31, 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more from Aalto University