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Thursday, 25 October 2007

The origin of happiness...

Brain scans obtained using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revealed that reflecting on both past and future events activated the amygdala and the the rostral anterior cingulated cortex (rACC) areas, both of which sit deep in the middle of the brain. However, positive events – and particularly those imagined in the future – elicited a significantly bigger brain response in these regions than reflecting on negative events.

Tali Sharot, a co-author of the new study now based at the University College London, UK, notes that the more pessimistic subjects in the trial had less activation of these brain areas than their optimistic counterparts when imagining happy events.

All this has led the researchers to suspect that the amygdala and rACC play an important role in signalling cheerful thoughts.

"What's striking is that these appear to be the same areas implicated in depression," says Phelps. Previous research has suggested that patients with depression have decreased nerve signalling in the rACC and amygdala.

Drevets notes that autopsies performed on severely depressed patients found fewer cells than normal in the rACC and amygdala. He says the new findings from Phelps’s study could perhaps explain why people with depression often have an absence of positive thoughts.

If future studies of depressed patients confirm a link between this mood disorder and abnormal activity in the amygdala and rACC, then doctors might one day use brain scans to diagnose this illness and alter therapy to act more directly on these brain regions, the researchers speculate.
source
My comment: You know how in sci fi novels people can see/hear/feel/taste via their virtual drive? I think such researches set us on the right foot for such experiences. Because we can't even start creating such technologies before becoming aware of the way our brain process infromation and create our perception of reality. So, let's see how far that research will take us.

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