The science behind festive spirit

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Dec 24, 2015, 7:16 am IST
Updated Mar 26, 2019, 3:12 pm IST
People who celebrated Christmas had increased blood oxygen flows.
A shopper checks out the gifts on display at a city store
 A shopper checks out the gifts on display at a city store

There is science behind the Christmas spirit! It’s not just the presents on Christmas day that makes us happy. The BMJ recently published a new study in the annual Christmas issue: “There is evidence of Christmas spirit in your brain.”

The researchers from Copenhagen recruited 10 people who celebrated Christmas and 10 who had no Christmas traditions. The participants were put through the MRI scan, which can produce activation maps showing which part of the brain is involved in a particular mental process. They were shown everyday images, which alternated with Christmas images. The participants also filled out a questionnaire about the traditions and feelings associated with the festive season.

 

The scans showed that there was a Christmas spirit in our brains. People who celebrated Christmas had increased blood oxygen flows in five parts of the brain when they looked at holiday related images. These areas of brain are associated with spirituality, somatic senses and recognition of facial emotion among many other functions. However, the scientists also said this was a study based on a small sample size and should be interpreted with caution.

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