Human Emotions Decoded



As human we are gifted with facial expressions for emotions; so obsessed are we with the emotions that we invented and use emoticons for textual communication. Perhaps, the stress level today is taking us away from this gift.

This is not so simple when we express emotions on our face. Psychology says that emotional expressions are verbal and non-verbal behaviours that communicate an internal emotional or affective state. Darwin claimed that the emotional expressions involve many systems: facial expression, behavioural response, physiological, postural, and vocal changes.

The most important aspect is that our brain has a role to play in all this. It could be a combined role of brain and the heart and this might turn out to be a surprise for those who come from the school of thought that brain is associated only with intelligence and heart only with emotions. However, for us – it is the mind that drives intelligence and emotions. The human brain is such a miracle that we have not yet understood with our present intelligence, probably because we do not see it physically. But brain in all its aspects is still a mystery for all of us.

As far as the emotions are concerned the mystery associated with brain seems to be resolved to some extent. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have identified which emotion a person is experiencing based on brain activity. The CMU researchers from Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, illustrate how the brain categorizes feelings. This is the first reliable process of its kind to analyse emotions based on brain activity. This research introduces a new method with potential to identify emotions without relying on people’s ability to self-report.

In this research the actors were asked to self induce nine emotions – anger, disgust, envy, fear, happiness, lust, pride, sadness, and shame. MRI scanning was carried out while the emotions were induced. The response pattern was decoded using a particular classifier the ability to identify specific emotions experienced by an individual at well over chance accuracy was demonstrated in this research.

MRI Brain Scans

Despite the differences between people’s psychology, different people tend to neurally encode emotions in remarkably similar ways. Another surprising finding from the research was that almost equivalent accuracy levels could be achieved even when the computer model made use of activation patterns in only one of a number of different subsections of the human brain – it simply suggests that emotion signatures aren’t limited to specific brain regions, but produce characteristic patterns throughout a number of brain regions.


The motivated research team is planning to apply the learning and finding of this work in complex situations in future; situations that deal with emotions that are generally suppressed by individuals and combination of emotions.

Searchoflife wishes the team best of their luck for all future initiatives; the initiatives that will uncover more mysteries associated with the Brain and will take us closer in our objective of searching what is ‘life’ and ‘why are we here’.

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