Neurologists on the pursuit of happiness

Neurologists are currently studying the inner workings of what it means to be happy and where happiness takes place in the brain
By Jason Spencer | Nov 21, 2015
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We all want to find that secret to being at peace with ourselves and finding true joy in life.

While happiness itself has been a mystery scientists are one step closer to debunking where these emotions take place and just how our brains process such a complex emotion.

According to The Independent, researchers at Kyoto University are narrowing in on just what it is that makes us feel happiness. By paying close attention to neural structures in the brain that are often associated with happiness, neurologists have discovered that the precuneus, a medial parietal lobe found at the top of the head, reacts to a combination of happy emotions and life satisfactions.

"Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is," said Wataru Sato, a lead researcher in the pursuit of happiness. Mr. Sato used MRI to observe how happiness is reflected when conscious.

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. Those with a larger grey matter volume in the precuneus were said to live happier lives.

According to Sato, grey matter can grow over time.

"Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mas in the precuneus. This new insight on where happiness happens inthe brain will be useful for developing happiness programmes based on scientific research."

And while doctors still have questions about the neural mechanism of happiness, this new information is a big step forward. Either way Sato is satisfied with his results.

"I'm very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy," he said.

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