Researchers map where subjective feelings are located in the body

Bodily feeling maps
Pixel intensities show regions where each feeling was associated with statistically significant bodily sensations.

British Psychological Society: “How do you feel?” is a simple and commonly asked question that belies the complex nature of our conscious experiences. The feelings and emotions we experience daily consist of bodily sensations, often accompanied by some kind of thought process, yet we still know very little about exactly how these different aspects relate to one another, or about how such experiences are organised in the brain.

Now, reporting their results in PNAS, a team of researchers in Finland, led by neuroscientist Lauri Nummenmaa of the University of Turku, has produced detailed maps of what they call the “human feeling space”, showing how each of dozens of these subjective feelings is associated with a unique set of bodily sensations. [⋮]

The new results provide yet more evidence for the emerging idea that the body plays a crucial role in cognitive and emotional processes – something which has, until very recently, been overlooked. “In other words,” says study co-author Riita Hari, “the human mind is strongly embodied.”

See also: 216 positive emotions that have no direct English translation

Humans and other animals

A cartography of consciousness

“Subjective feelings are a central feature of human life, yet their relative organization has remained elusive.”

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