Your Brain and…Christmas…

Lacking in Christmas spirit? Your brain might be to blame

Honor Whiteman | Medical News Today

xmas stess

Tis the season to be jolly…well, for most of us. For others, the thought of Christmas festivities fills them with dread – a phenomenon termed “bah humbug” syndrome. But according to new research, this phenomenon may be down to lack of activity in a brain network associated with “Christmas spirit.”

Researchers have identified a brain network for Christmas spirit, which they say could help treat people with bah humbug syndrome.
Yes, you read right; researchers have identified a Christmas spirit network in the brain – an area that they believe may play a role in the feelings of joy and nostalgia many of us feel during the holiday season.

The discovery – detailed in The BMJ’s Christmas issue, commonly known for its unconventional content – could help rekindle the Christmas spirit for people with bah humbug syndrome, according to the authors.

To reach their findings, study coauthor Anders Hougaard, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 20 adults.

The team notes that since the early 90s, fMRI has been used to pinpoint emotional and functional regions in the human brain; in this study, the team used the scanning technique to determine whether Christmas spirit could be isolated in specific cerebral regions.

“Throughout the world, we estimate that millions of people are prone to displaying Christmas spirit deficiencies after many years of celebrating Christmas. We refer to this as the ‘bah humbug’ syndrome. Accurate localization of the Christmas spirit is a paramount first step in being able to help this group of patients,” the authors explain.

They add that localizing Christmas spirit in the brain may also increase understanding of the role the brain plays in festive cultural traditions, “making a medical contribution to cross-cultural festivities and goodwill to all.”
During fMRI, the 20 participants were required to wear video goggles and view 84 images; subjects were shown six consecutive images with a Christmas theme for 2 seconds each, before being shown six everyday images, and so on.

After the scans, each participant completed a questionnaire detailing their Christmas traditions, how they felt about Christmas and their ethnicity.

Based on this information, the researchers allocated them to one of two groups: the Christmas group (who reported celebrating Christmas and had positive feelings toward READ MORE:

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