Through your skin to your heart and brain: A critical evaluation of physiological methods in Cognitive Translation and Interpreting Studies


  • Ana María Rojo Universidad de Murcia
  • Paweł Korpal Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań Department of Translation Studies



Heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance, emotion, stress


This article offers a critical appraisal of two experimental methods used to provide physiological measures of stress and emotions in translation and interpreting research, namely, the analysis of heart rate and heart rate variability, and skin conductance. This is a hands-on introduction to summarize information for fellow-researchers on what these methods are and what they tell us about our body and mind as well as to offer a comprehensive summary of practical applications and analysis standards. The first part of the article introduces the ways in which emotions are experienced and processed in the brain; it provides a framework for interpreting physiological arousal and its role in the perception and construction of emotions. The second part is structured in two parallel sections devoted to each of the two experimental methods. Both sections review existing research on these methods in Translation and Interpreting Studies and discuss the way in which each can best be used in experimental research. They offer suggestions on experiment planning, measurement, data analysis and data reporting. A final remark on ethics and triangulation is offered and some emerging challenges are addressed.

Author Biographies

Ana María Rojo, Universidad de Murcia

Ana María Rojo López is Professor of Translation at the University of Murcia (Spain), where she is currently Deputy Director of the International Doctoral School at the University of Murcia. Her current research interests focus mainly on the study of the translation process, with special emphasis on the role of emotions, creativity and other personality and individual differences. Her interests also lie within audience reception analysis and the contributions of Cognitive Linguistics to translation studies. She has authored and co-edited the following books and monograph issues: Contrastive Cognitive Linguistics (University of Murcia, 2003), Cognitive Linguistics: From Words to Discourse (University of Murcia, 2007), Step by Step. A Course in Contrastive Linguistics and Translation (Peter Lang, 2009), Trends in Cognitive Linguistics (Peter Lang, 2009), Diseños y métodos de investigación en traducción (Síntesis, 2013), Interdisciplinarity in Translation Studies (Peter Lang, 2016), Translation as an emotional phenomenon (John Benjamins, en prensa). She has also written many scholarly articles which have appeared either in specialised national and international journals or as book chapters published by several national and international publishing houses (Atrio, Anubar, Mouton de Gruyter, John Benjamins, Routledge, Sendebar, Babel, Languages in Contrast, Journal of Pragmatics, Meta, Across Languages and Cultures, Translation Spaces, Target, Multilingua, etc.). 

Paweł Korpal, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań Department of Translation Studies

Position: Assistant professor


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How to Cite

Rojo, A. M., & Korpal, P. (2021). Through your skin to your heart and brain: A critical evaluation of physiological methods in Cognitive Translation and Interpreting Studies. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies, 19.