Scientists Find Where Human Happiness Happens Inside The Brain
Nov 22 2015
Thus, the researchers conclude that overall happiness-a general happy sense of well-being-might be a collection of brief happy feelings which culminate in a wider sense of satisfaction with life. To examine it further, the team dove into the neural structures of the brain that surround the feeling of happiness. While some stay focussed on material possessions, others seek self-help books, meditation and exercising to stay positive and happy.
According to Sato the study has some major implications for future research into what makes people feel happy, but the study also suggests some immediate means to increase happiness. "This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research". The researchers have approached the question of happiness from a neurological angle.
"Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter as in the precuneus". An analysis of the results showed that a greater mass of grey matter in the precuneus was associated with higher scores on the happiness surveys.
The once blurry meaning of human happiness is now a bit clearer - but of course, more follow-up studies are needed to "solidify" the word's true meaning.
People who feel happiness more intense, and are more able to find meaning in life have a larger precuneus - a region in the medial parietal lobe that becomes active when experiencing consciousness, the findings showed. Psychologists have found that emotional factors like these and satisfactions of life together constitute the subjective experience of being "happy".
Study leader Wataru Sato believes understanding that mechanism could help scientists quantify the levels of happiness objectively.
"Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is", said Wataru Sato, a lead researcher in the pursuit of happiness.
A wide variety of people were surveyed based on how intensely they felt emotion, and then data from the survey was compared with MRI images of grey matter observed in the precuneus. For now, Sato and his team are happy with the major step they have made towards discovering the source of good feelings. Those who have a larger precuneus have more neurons in that portion of their brain, and have a better ability to process information in that part of their brain.