Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Bodily sensations trigger conscious feelings

02 Sep 2018, 03:00 ( 16 days ago) | updated: 02 Sep 2018, 11:44 ( 16 days ago)

DF Report
New research helps to understand how illnesses and bodily states in general influence our subjective well-being. Press Release Photo by University of Turku.

A Finnish research group from the University of Turku, the University of Tampere and Aalto University has mapped the organisation of human conscious feelings and found them to cluster into five major categories: positive emotions, negative emotions, cognitive functions, somatic states, and illnesses.

New research helps to understand how illnesses and bodily states in general influence our subjective wellbeing, said a recent press release issued by the University of Turku.

Man constantly experiences an ever-changing stream of subjective feelings that is only interrupted during sleep and deep unconsciousness.

Finnish researches show how the subjective feelings map into the five major categories. All these feelings were imbued with strong bodily sensations. 

“These results show that conscious feelings stem from bodily feedback. Although consciousness emerges due to brain function and we experience our consciousness to be ‘housed’ in the brain, bodily feedback contributes significantly to a wide variety of subjective feelings,” said Turku PET Centre Associate Professor Lauri Nummenmaa.

According to the researchers, emotions vividly colour all our feelings as pleasant or unpleasant. It is possible that during evolution, consciousness has originally emerged to inform the organisms and others around about tissue damage and wellbeing. This development may have paved for the emergence of language, thinking and reasoning.

“Subjective wellbeing is an important determinant of our prosperity, and pain and negative emotions are intimately linked with multiple somatic and psychological illnesses. Our findings help to understand how illnesses and bodily states in general influence our subjective wellbeing. Importantly, they also demonstrate the strong embodiment of cognitive and emotional states,” said Nummenmaa.

The study was conducted through an online questionnaire to which more than 1,000 people responded. The respondents first evaluated 100 feeling states in terms of how much they are experienced in the body and the mind and how emotional and controllable they are. Next, they also evaluated how similar the feelings are with respect to each other, and whereabouts in the body they are felt.

The results were published on 28 August 2018 by the National Academy of Sciences in its journal the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).

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