There are several tricks the winter season plays on your psyche. While it is a wonderfully happy time indeed, the lack of sunshine may influence mood in a negative manner.
The human brain responds to the Christmas season with a certain repertoire of emotions and memories. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark did some studies and found out a lot about the network in the brain connected with the winter holiday season. They were just conducting migraine research and found this evidence about the winter blues by accident.
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Several areas in the brain were seen to light up when people saw warm and cozy images of Yuletide. The findings were published in a journal. It was pretty interesting stuff that was discovered by the scientists.
The occipital lobe is linked with eyesight and it was involved. And so was the primary and premotor cortex. These are linked with locomotion. Finally there was the bilateral primary somatosensory cortex which was linked with the tactile senses.
The research tends to give a picture of why some people tend to act like that grouchy miser named Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, reported Huffington Post. The lack of all sense of happiness and joy at the arrival of the holiday season is a strange and paradoxical fact.
However, the research is still in its nascent stages so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The areas of the brain are involved in much more complex tasks as well. So generalizations will not do here.
While the responses to Christmas images did occur it was not known why or how they happened in the first place. This seemed to be a mystery. There are a series of holiday-related networks in the human brain.
The happy response is not the only one that immediately registers in your brain on Christmas. There is more to it than that. It is good to receive gifts and tear apart the packing haphazardly, but did you know that it is still counted as a reward if you give gifts to others.
That altruistic touch sure goes a long way in providing satisfaction. The mesolimbic system is responsible for this response. During Christmas, people spend a lot of time with family and friends.
This brotherhood and camaraderie may result in a stimulation of the cingulate part of the brain. This has emotional processing as part of its scale of values. Gratitude is activated via the social bonding.
The stresses of retail therapy, baking cakes and traveling long distances get on your nerves though. The hippocampus is responsible for this internal response to an external stressor.
Furthermore, the lapse in nutrition due to all the sugary treats causes a sugar high that also leads to cravings for sweet stuff. Finally, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) causes the winter blues or depression. So this is one to watch out for, since it could ruin your Christmas holidays.
This study was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).