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Danish researchers discover "Christmas network" in our head
Why do some people get into a festive harmonic mood shortly before Christmas? But why are there people who leave Christmas totally cold? Is there really something like a "Christmas spirit"? In fact, there seems to be a kind of network for the Christmas spirit in our head. Researchers from Copenhagen discovered this through functional MRI scans.
A lot of people have a very special mood just before Christmas. Do the seasonal feelings actually produce a response in the human brain? The scientists have now found that our brain has a network of several cortical regions. This network seems to be responsible for our holiday mood. The researchers published the results of their study in the scientific journal "British Medical Journal".
Some people's brains do not get into the “Christmas mood“
Most people know the Christmas story of Charles Dickens. The story is about the old and wealthy Ebenezer Scrooge. The old man is a heartless miser. He considers Christmas to be a waste of time and money. But why was the old man such a bitter "Christmas hater" in history? The doctors found that in such people, certain areas of the brain simply do not respond to Christmas and the associated mood. These people, so to speak, would not have the Christmas spirit in them, the doctors said.
Researchers examined the response of test subjects from Christmas photos
After a survey of their affinity for Christmas traditions, researchers divided participants into two groups. Each group contained ten subjects, there was a Christmas group and a non-Christmas group. The participants were then shown a mixture of photos with everyday topics and pictures with Christmas scenes. Then it was evaluated how the test subjects had reacted to pictures of Christmas lights, fir trees and Christmas cookies. The researchers from Copenhagen explained that the participants had not previously been informed about the purpose of the study.
Increased brain activity found in Christmas pictures
When the subjects were shown everyday pictures, the scientists could see no difference in neuronal activity between the two groups. However, the researchers in the Christmas group showed Christmas photos that increased brain activity could be observed. The affected brain areas, for example, have a lot to do with spirituality, somatic senses and the recognition of facial emotion, the researchers said in their study. Unfortunately, it was not clear whether this observed brain response was related to Christmas.
"The result could also be a combination of happy, festive, or nostalgic feelings in general," added the doctors. The images could “contain certain, nondescript differences, such as a higher concentration of the color red”. These differences could be responsible for triggering the different brain activities. More research is needed to fully answer these questions, the scientists explained in their study. Despite all these problems and ambiguities, doctors are not yet ready to give up their Christmas research. If we understood how the Christmas mood affects our neurological network, we would get an insight into an interesting area of human neuropsychology, the researchers explained. (as)