Bodily maps of emotions across child development

Jari K. Hietanen*, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Lauri Nummenmaa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Different basic emotions (anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, and surprise) are consistently associated with distinct bodily sensation maps, which may underlie subjectively felt emotions. Here we investigated the development of bodily sensations associated with basic emotions in 6- to 17-year-old children and adolescents (n = 331). Children as young as 6 years of age associated statistically discernible, discrete patterns of bodily sensations with happiness, fear, and surprise, as well as with emotional neutrality. The bodily sensation maps changed from less to more specific, adult-like patterns as a function of age. We conclude that emotion-related bodily sensations become increasingly discrete over child development. Developing awareness of their emotion-related bodily sensations may shape the way children perceive, label, and interpret emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111–1118
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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