Where Happiness Happens?

Posted: Nov 24 2015, 8:16am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Where Happiness Happens?
Kyoto University scientists have used MRI brain scans to find the location of happiness. Credit: Kyoto University
  • Happiness Center located in the Human Brain via MRI Methods

The happiness center has been successfully located in the human brain via MRI methods.

We choose all sorts of paths in order to increase our happiness. We exercise at the gym, get a full body massage at the spa and meditate in the morning. Some choose self-help books that promote positivity. But what is this thing called happiness?

Well, a researcher and his team at Kyoto University decided to find out. To find the truth about happiness and the art of living a happy life, we will have to turn to the field of neuroscience. The general basis of daily happiness is dependent upon uplifting emotions. And overall happiness comes from the precuneus, a region in the median parietal lobe of the brain.

This particular part of the brain becomes excited when we experience consciousness. Different folks experience emotions in different ways. There are those who just need a compliment from a friend or a significant other to feel a surge of pride and happiness. Happiness does have a subjective factor to it though. It is not entirely context-based. The neural pathways are a bit of a mystery despite so much medical advancement.

A thorough understanding of the neural pathways will pave a way to the science of happiness. Several subjects had their brains scanned using MRI facilities. They were also given questionnaires that measured several factors including life satisfaction, daily moods and intensity of emotional reactions.

It was found that those who had a higher happiness score were liable to have more grey matter in the precuneus. Thus those who felt happiness more intensely also didn’t feel much sadness at tragic events. They also tended to have a settled view regarding the meaning of life via a philosophy of life or religious outlook.

Throughout human history many thinkers have written on the enigmatic topic of human happiness. From Aristotle’s early musings in the times of the Greeks all the way to Bertrand Russell’s book “The Conquest of Happiness”, man has pondered over the mystery of gaiety.

Why are some people seen to enjoy life despite their circumstances while others are so cynical and dissatisfied that they do not even get a decent night’s sleep. Thus for the first time, scientists have at least pinpointed a physical marker in the form of brain tissue where human happiness has its origins. Via meditation and other therapies, the grey matter in the precuneus may be increased thereby leading to greater happiness and joy in life.

"Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is," lead author of the study Wataru Sato said. "I'm very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy."

"Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus. This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research," he said.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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