Body-based intervention of cognition
Previous studies on aesthetic chills (i.e., psychogenic shivers) demonstrate their positive effects on stress, pleasure, and social cognition. We tested whether we could artificially enhance this emotion and its downstream effects by intervening on its somatic markers using wearable technology. We built a device generating cold and vibrotactile sensations down the spine of subjects in temporal conjunction with a chill-eliciting audiovisual stimulus, enhancing the somatosensation of cold underlying aesthetic chills. Results suggest that participants wearing the device experienced significantly more chills, and chills of greater intensity. Further, these subjects reported sharing the feelings expressed in the stimulus to a greater degree, and felt more pleasure during the experience. These preliminary results demonstrate that emotion prosthetics and somatosensory interfaces offer new possibilities of modulating human emotions from the bottom-up (body to mind). Future challenges will include testing the device on a larger sample and diversifying the type of stimuli to account for negatively valenced chills and intercultural differences. Interoceptive technologies offer a new paradigm for affective neuroscience, allowing controlled intervention on conscious feelings and their downstream effects on higher-order cognition.