This Is What The Holiday Season Does To Your Brain

It turns out that there’s a whole network in our brains devoted to the Christmas spirit.

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark accidentally found evidence of the network when they were conducting migraine research and noticed that several regions of the brain activate when healthy people view warm and fuzzy Christmas-themed photos. They published their finding in the British Medical Journal on Dec. 16.

“We found the findings very interesting,” Dr. Bryan Haddock, a medical physicist at the university and a co-author of the study, told The Huffington Post.

The network includes the occipital lobe, which is associated with vision; the primary and premotor cortex, associated with movement; and the bilateral primary somatosensory cortex, associated with the sense of touch. The findings may offer a scientific explanation as to why some people have an Ebenezer Scrooge-like tendency to lack holiday cheer, said Haddock, who has his own family traditions of dancing around the Christmas tree.

He added, however, that it’s important to interpret the findings with caution.

“All of these areas are involved in more complex operations that are less understood,” he said. The scientists used fMRI technology to pinpoint where brain responses to Christmas imagery occurred, but not necessarily why or how these occurrences took place.

The researchers who looked at the “Christmas spirit network” concluded not only that more research is needed to understand the newfound network, but also that there could be other holiday-related circuits in the brain.

After all, this network is not all that lights up between your ears when you experience Christmas cheer. Scroll down for five other fascinating ways in which your brain may respond to season’s greetings.

1. Your brain on giving

Yes, it feels awesome to open your gifts, but a 2006 MRI study showed that when you give charitable —> Read More