Feeling strong emotions makes peoples' brains 'tick together'

Emotions synchronize brain activity in the networks supporting vision, attention and emotional processing. Credit: Lauri Numminmaa

Experiencing strong emotions synchronises brain activity across individuals, research team at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre in Finland has revealed.

Human emotions are highly contagious. Seeing others' such as smiles triggers often the corresponding emotional response in the observer. Such synchronisation of emotional states across individuals may support social interaction: When all group members share a common emotional state, their brains and bodies process the environment in a similar fashion.

Researchers at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre have now found that feeling strong emotions makes different individuals' literally synchronous.

The results revealed that especially feeling strong unpleasant emotions synchronised brain's emotion processing networks in the frontal and midline regions. On the contrary, experiencing highly arousing events synchronised activity in the networks supporting vision, attention and .

Sharing others' emotional states provides the observers a somatosensory and neural framework that facilitates understanding others' intentions and actions and allows to 'tune in' or 'sync' with them. Such automatic tuning facilitates and group processes, says Adjunct Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from the Aalto University.

The results have major implications for current neural models of human emotions and group behaviour. It also deepens our understanding of mental disorders involving abnormal socioemotional processing, Nummenmaa says.

Participants' brain activity was measured with while they were viewing short pleasant, neutral and unpleasant movies.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obesity is associated with altered brain function

Feb 09, 2012

In most western countries the annual increase in the prevalence and the severity of obesity is currently substantial. Although obesity typically results simply from excessive energy intake, it is currently ...

Recommended for you

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

7 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

9 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

11 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

How do we make moral judgements?

12 hours ago

In a target article published in the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) Neuroscience, Université de Montréal and IRCM neuroethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions by suggesting a new ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.