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Feeling touched by emotions

7 giugno 2024
11:00 am
San Ponziano Complex - Conference Room

Emotions are commonly associated with bodily sensations, even in the way we talk about emotions (e.g., boiling with anger when overwhelmed with rage or feeling butterflies in the stomach when terribly in love).
Recent constructionist approaches have suggested that emotions emerge because of “mixing” bodily states with sensory information and finally their conceptualisation through language.
In line with this perspective, in this talk I will present a series of studies that explore body-emotion relationship, in particular exploring: a) whether and to what extent brain regions somatotopically organised are actively involved in the feeling of subjective emotion and experiences (Study 1) using fMRI; b) the causal role of somatosensory areas in perceiving and generating subjective emotions using tACS (Study 2); c) the role of vision as well as high-level cognition, such as language, in the subjective experience of emotions (Study 3), using a sensory deprivation approach (i.e., assessing blind individuals) and, finally, d) we observed whether the body facilitates the ability to recognise emotions in clinical populations that show emotion recognition impairments. To do this, we studied Benign Rolandic Epilepsy (BRE) as a model to explore a possible benefit of the body in emotion recognition when the impairment is located at the level of the Central Nervous System (SNC) level (i.e., top-down level).

Overall, the results of the studies presented converge on the conclusion that the body plays a crucial role in perceiving and generating emotions, thus pointing to a strong embodied and constructionist perspective of emotional processing.

Join at: imt.lu/conference

Elena Nava, University of Milano Bicocca