Christmas Spirit Linked To Brain Activity

First Posted: Dec 18, 2015 03:23 PM EST

Christmas spirit is alive and well as the holiday season fast-approaches. And now, scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have pinpointed this feeling of joy and nostalgia to certain parts in the brain.

"Accurate localisation of the Christmas spirit is a paramount first step in being able to help this group of patients," the authors noted, via a news release. Researchers believe that the findings will help in more thorughly understanding the brain's role in cultural festivities. 

During the study, researchers conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on 20 participants to determine any changes seen in oxygen and flow in response to neural activity.

To determine just how the Christmas spirit really gets to the heart (or brain really) of some, the study sample was composed of 10 people who celebrated Christmas and 10 who did not from the same area. Meanwhile, participants viewed 84 images with video goggles that showed different images for two seconds and for every six consecutive Christmas images, six non-holiday images.

Findings revealed activation in the sensory motor cortex, premotor cortex and primary motor cortex, as well as the parietal lobule and bilateral primary somatosensory cortex via the scans of participants who celebrated Christmas when they saw a Christmas image.

"Understanding how the Christmas spirit works as a neurological network could provide insight into an interesting area of human neuropsychology and be a powerful tool in treating ailments such as bah humbug syndrome," researchers concluded, via UPI.

The study is published (Dec. 16) in The British Medical Journal.

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