Scientists discover an alternative set of emotions


Sophie Barnes - Staff Writer

Scientists have come closer to discovering the brain’s emotional states through multiple tests.  With these tests, scientist Aleix Martinez and his colleagues have decoded 15 new emotions that are not a part of the six basic human emotions.  Scientists added emotions apart from happy, sad, fearful, angry, surprised and disgusted to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) Journal.  The facial muscles people use to express emotion usually define these emotions, which scientists call emotional categories.

Scientists code these newly discovered emotions by combining the basic emotions.  The scientists working on the experiment have discovered that “happily surprised” is much different than “fearfully surprised” or “happily disgusted.”  They believe a large part of the facial expressions must be biological because all humans use the same muscles to express a specific emotion.  People express compound emotions by combining the features of individual feelings, so someone who is happily surprised moves all the muscles associated with showing a surprised smile.  The discovery could lead to new medical research as well.

“It’s always exciting when scientists are able to make discoveries that affect our society in such a drastic way,” said junior Sabrina Silberman.

These newly found emotions could possibly impact future research on psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism, which could move science into an entirely new direction.  Scientists could also use compound emotions to create better human-computer interaction systems.

“The fact that scientists are able to make these kinds of discoveries is very promising to the future of society,” said junior Lily Lester. “Scientists are definitely headed in the right direction for medical research.”

Scientists have been using sample images of facial expressions collected from 230 human subjects to form this study.  A Facial Action Coding System analysis, which scientists have also discovered, shows the production of these 21 categories of emotions is different than anything they have discovered about emotions in the past.