New study conducted by Vanderbilt University researchers shows how people experience emotion through their bodies and how this process is radically altered in people with schizophrenia.
Sohee Park, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Psychology, and Ph.D. student LÚnie J. Torregrossa compared individuals with schizophrenia with matched control participants, asking each to fill in a "body map" in a way that correlates to the way they physically experience emotion. They used a computerized coloring task to locate where participants feel sensations when they experience, for example, anger or depression.
The outcomes differed radically between groups, with the control group showing distinct maps of sensations for 13 different emotions, indicating specific patterns of increased arousal and decreased energy across the body for each emotion.
"The main outcome of this research is that we have a better understanding of why people with schizophrenia might have trouble interacting with others," she said. "What we can do now is help them learn to attend to physiological sensations arising from their bodies and use them to process emotions."