EMOTIONS & THE SENSES

We are more connected through sense and our environment than you think.

The smell of a new car, vanilla candles to trigger pleasure or that song that make you happy.

HEARING:

Research by Michael Kraus at Yale finds that the human voice can trump the visual when conveying emotion: Participants who only listened to a video of people conversing were better able to identify amusement, embarrassment, and happiness compared with those who watched and listened to (or just watched) the video. 

This may in part be because when we’re tuned in to voices, we aren’t distracted by visuals and pick up on the subtleties of tone. 

SMELL:

 Unlike most other senses, smell takes a direct path to the brain, going straight into the amygdala and olfactory cortex. Certain smells can trigger a rise in heartbeat and blood pressure, and others can bring on a feeling of calm. Direct wiring into the brain’s emotional and memory centers may also empower odors to trigger memories of past events. Humans have an excellent sense of smell-we’re able to detect at least a trillion odors.

And surprise About 75 percent of what the brain perceives as taste actually is smell, which is why food is such a powerful emotional trigger

TOUCH:

 Our skin has an abundance of specialized receptors to sense pressure, heat, pain, and other sensations. Touch can help us feel less distress: Massage stimulates neural networks that cause the brain to lower stress-related hormones cortisol and epinephrine. 

Touch can also communicate at a basic level more profoundly than words. Research by psychologist Matthew Hertenstein finds that people sitting in a lab with a screen between them can convey emotions like anger, sympathy, gratitude, and fear through touch alone (strokes, pats, pressure)-without words! 

 SIGHT:

Vision is critical for imitation, a process in parent-child bonding during the first months of a child’s life. This urge to mimic the emotional behavior of others, called emotional contagion, continues throughout life. 

So what do you think? Drop your comments below.

See you next week.

Susan Ibitz- Human Behavior Lab

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