Christmas time is always a happy time. It creates a positive atmosphere with lots of fun, creativity and joy. But Christmas may not always bring a happy spirit for everybody.
How much you enjoy and what type of mood or spirit you tend to have during Christmas can have an impact on your mental heath, revealed a new study.
‘The cortical areas like parietal lobules, the premotor cortex, and the somatosensory cortex possibly constitute the neuronal correlate of the Christmas spirit in the human brain.’
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark have conducted a study to determine how people across different cultural backgrounds react to Christmas. They said that millions of people are prone to displaying Christmas spirit deficiencies after many years of celebrating Christmas. This is called as the "bah humbug" syndrome. The study was published in the Journal BMJ
They studied the MRI scans of people who were divided into two groups namely: Christmas group: 10 individuals who celebrate Christmas and non-Christmas group: 10 Individuals who do not celebrate Christmas. They were scanned while watching Christmas-related images and ordinary images.
Researchers found that five regions of the brain namely left primary motor and premotor cortex, right inferior/superior parietal lobule, and bilateral primary somatosensory cortex were activated when people in the Christmas group were shown Christmas-related images. But similar responses were not seen in the non-Christmas group.
They identified a functional Christmas network comprising of several cortical areas, including the parietal lobules, the premotor cortex, and the somatosensory cortex. The activation in these areas was associated with the Christmas spirit. The left and right parietal lobules play a determining role in self transcendence or spirituality while the somatosensory cortex is important for experiencing emotions.
Researchers concluded, "The study could therefore be an important first step in transcultural neuroscience and the associations humans have with their festive traditions."
Reference: Bryan T Haddock, Anders Hougaard, Ulrich Lindberg et al. "Evidence of a Christmas spirit network in the brain: functional MRI study," BMJ 2015;351:h6266