Where Your Body 'Feels' Emotions Revealed In New Study Scientists have long known that common emotions can trigger sensations in our bodies -- whether it's butterflies in the stomach (anxiety) or hot cheeks (shame). And now a new study suggests that we all have the same bodily sensations associated with our feelings regardless of culture or language -- because the mind-body connection is biological, and is linked to our very drive for survival. "Our emotional system in the brain sends signals to the body so we can deal with our situation," study leader Dr. Lauri Nummenmaa, assistant professor at Aalto University's School of Science in Finland, told NPR. "Say you see a snake and you feel fear... Your nervous system increases oxygen to your muscles and raises your heart rate so you can deal with the threat. It's an automated system. We don't have to think about it." Bodily maps of emotions: Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences Lauri Nummenmaaa,b,c,1, Enrico Glereana, Riitta Harib,1, and Jari K. Hietanend aDepartment of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science and bBrain Research Unit, O. V. Lounasmaa Laboratory, School of Science, Aalto University, FI-00076, Espoo, Finland; cTurku PET Centre, University of Turku, FI-20521, Turku, Finland; and dHuman Information Processing Laboratory, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, FI-33014, Tampere, Finland Emotions are often felt in the body, and somatosensory feedback has been proposed to trigger conscious emotional experiences. Here we reveal maps of bodily sensations associated with different emotions using a unique topographical self-report method. In five experiments, participants (n = 701) were shown two silhouettes of bodies alongside emotional words, stories, movies, or facial expressions. They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each stimulus. Different emotions were consistently associated with statistically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples. Statistical classifiers distinguished emotion-specific activation maps accurately, confirming independence of topographies across emotions. We propose that emotions are represented in the somatosensory system as culturally universal categorical somatotopic maps. Perception of these emotion-triggered bodily changes may play a key role in generating consciously felt emotions.