Happiness linked to size of precuneus in Brain: Kyoto University Research

Happiness linked to size of precuneus in Brain: Kyoto University Research

Some people remain happy even with limited resources while others don’t enjoy even with all the facilities and wealth. A new study conducted by researchers at the Kyoto University in Japan has found that happiness could be linked to a part of brain. People who generally feel happy and stay calm have larger precuneus -- a region in the medial parietal lobe, according to the Japanese research team.

The study team also found that with regular meditation, the grey matter mass in the precuneus increases with time. After using MRI brain scans, the research team linked the mass in the precuneus to happiness ratings of study subjects.

Study participants were asked how much satisfied they were with their life and how intense were there feelings about certain emotions. The research team was led by Wataru Sato at Kyoto University in Japan. Talking about the results of the study, Sato said, "Several studies show 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. I am very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy."

People feel emotions in different ways; for instance, some people feel happiness more intensely than others when they receive compliments. Psychologists have found that emotional factors like these and satisfaction of life together constitutes the subjective experience of being "happy". The neural mechanism behind how happiness emerges, however, remained unclear. Understanding that mechanism, according to Sato, will be a huge asset for quantifying levels of happiness objectively.

Sato and his team scanned the brains of research participants with MRI. The participants then took a survey that asked how happy they are generally, how intensely they feel emotions, and how satisfied they are with their lives.

Their analysis revealed that those who scored higher on the happiness surveys had more grey matter mass in the precuneus. In other words, people who feel happiness more intensely, feel sadness less intensely, and are more able to find meaning in life have a larger precuneus.


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