Self-help literature abounds with the quest for happiness: what causes it and how can you get some of your own?
But what does neuroscience have to say on the subject? A new MRI study from Korean researchers offers new information to the happiness market.
The study, entitled The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness, was published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, and used MRI to study the brain scans of 51 participants. Before the scan, each participant was assessed by a team of psychological experts and then asked to complete a questionnaire which had them self-assess their own positive and negative emotional responses.
Results showed that the participants with higher ‘positive’ scores on their questionnaires had more gray matter in the precuneus, the region of the brain that controls self-consciousness, and the action of comparing the state of one’s life and happiness with that of others’. Previous studies have shown that the bigger one’s precuneus, the better the ability to process self-awareness and positive emotions.
Lead researcher Wataru Sato believes this new research proves that happiness stems from neurological beginnings. “Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is,” he said. “I’m very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy.”