We often say that when we are in love we feel warmth all over our body or when we are angry the blood rushes to our head. As it turns out, these are not just words. Researchers from Finland for the first time presented the evidence that emotions are associated with a series of physiological changes in our body, which in fact are the same in all people, regardless of race or culture. The study, published in the journal «Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences», presents the findings in form of diagrams.
Yellow color shows the points with the most increased activity, while blue color indicates the ones with the more reduced activity.
People in love have a feeling of warmth, which leaves ‘unaffected’ the area around the knees and down. According to scientists, it may explain why we say that we feel our knees “shaking” at the sight of our beloved one. Conversely, those who have a heartbreak or, as we say, have their heart broken, feel pain or heaviness in the chest. Generally, the disappointment causes a feeling of weakness in the limbs and higher level of activity in the heart, while the depression literally “freezes” the body and ‘cuts’ hands and feet. Emotions such as anger and rage are mainly felt in the upper part of the chest, which probably means that we are subconsciously preparing for a fight, as the study authors note. The disgust, in turn, affects the throat and digestive system.
Researchers from several Finnish universities led by Lauri Nummenmaa and Enrico Glerean showed movies and read stories, which were designed to induce specific emotions, to 700 male and female volunteers of various races and cultures. After each test, the researchers gave the volunteers the outline of a human body and asked them to mark with different colors the points where they felt more or less activity.
The results showed that the same emotions caused the same physical response in all the volunteers, regardless of their gender, race and culture of origin. This, according to the study authors, suggests that physiological processes which cause bodily sensations are directly related to how we experience our emotions. “Deciphering subjective somatic sensations associated with human emotions could help us better understand mood disorders such as anxiety and depression,” they note.