Have you ever swelled with pride? Or slumped with sadness? Do you radiate happiness? There are many sayings linking physical feelings with emotions – but where do they come from? Participants in a recent international study were asked to choose areas of their bodies which become more or less lively when experiencing different emotions – these body maps show the results. Warm colours (red-yellow) highlight areas that the participants agreed become more active, such as the heart when experiencing fear or the stomach when disgusted. Cooler colours (dark-light blue) are areas thought to “freeze”, such as the limbs when depressed. There is mounting evidence that regardless of cultural sayings and clichés, specific emotions are linked with physical sensations through the somatosensory system. This might explain how the people from different cultures described similar physical responses to emotions, and agree that happiness is the only emotion capable of lighting up the entire body.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.