By applying an algorithm to functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists have been able to see emotions at work in the human brain.
The findings – recently published in the journalPLOS Biology – could enable better assessment of emotional states, which may help individuals who struggle to convey their feelings.
According to the research team – including Prof. Kevin LaBar of Duke University in Durham, NC – it is well established that movies, music, and other external stimuli can trigger emotions that are reflected in patterns of brain activity.
But what about past emotional experiences? Can the feelings induced by the memory of a birthday party or the recollection of the loss of a loved one be represented in brain activity?
This is what Prof. LaBar and colleagues set out to investigate in their new study.
The researchers note that previous studies have shown that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can differentiate between thoughts of specific objects, such as a face or a house.
In this study, the researchers applied an algorithm – incorporating various models of emotional experience – to the fMRI scans of 21 university students.
This allowed them to pinpoint seven brain activity patterns – or “maps” – that reflect certain emotional states, including contentment, amusement, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, and neutrality.
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Source: Medical News Today
Image courtesy of http://www.brainharmonycenter.com/