Eine interessante Studie untersucht, wie die Gehirne von Leuten auf Weihnachten reagieren:
Objective To detect and localise the Christmas spirit in the human brain.
Design Single blinded, cross cultural group study with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Setting Functional imaging unit and department of clinical physiology, nuclear medicine and PET in Denmark.
Participants 10 healthy people from the Copenhagen area who routinely celebrate Christmas and 10 healthy people living in the same area who have no Christmas traditions.
Main outcome measures Brain activation unique to the group with Christmas traditions during visual stimulation with images with a Christmas theme.
Methods Functional brain scans optimised for detection of the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response were performed while participants viewed a series of images with Christmas themes interleaved with neutral images having similar characteristics but containing nothing that symbolises Christmas. After scanning, participants answered a questionnaire about their Christmas traditions and the associations they have with Christmas. Brain activation maps from scanning were analysed for Christmas related activation in the “Christmas” and “non-Christmas” groups individually. Subsequently, differences between the two groups were calculated to determine Christmas specific brain activation.
Results Significant clusters of increased BOLD activation in the sensory motor cortex, the premotor and primary motor cortex, and the parietal lobule (inferior and superior) were found in scans of people who celebrate Christmas with positive associations compared with scans in a group having no Christmas traditions and neutral associations. These cerebral areas have been associated with spirituality, somatic senses, and recognition of facial emotion among many other functions.
Conclusions There is a “Christmas spirit network” in the human brain comprising several cortical areas. This network had a significantly higher activation in a people who celebrate Christmas with positive associations as opposed to a people who have no Christmas traditions and neutral associations. Further research is necessary to understand this and other potential holiday circuits in the brain. Although merry and intriguing, these findings should be interpreted with caution.
Aus der Studie:
We identified a functional Christmas network comprising several cortical areas, including the parietal lobules, the premotor cortex, and the somatosensory cortex. Activation in these areas coincided well with our hypothesis that images with a Christmas theme would stimulate centres associated with the Christmas spirit. The left and right parietal lobules have been shown in earlier fMRI studies to play a determining role in self transcendence, the personality trait regarding predisposition to spirituality.6 Furthermore, the frontal premotor cortex is important for experiencing emotions shared with other individuals by mirroring or copying their body state,7 and premotor cortical mirror neurons even respond to observation of ingestive mouth actions.8 Recall of joyful emotions and pleasant ingestive behaviour shared with loved ones would be likely to elicit activation here. There is growing evidence that the somatosensory cortex plays an important role in recognition of facial emotion and retrieving social relevant information from faces.9 Collectively, these cortical areas possibly constitute the neuronal correlate of the Christmas spirit in the human brain.
We realise that some of our colleagues within the specialties of neuroscience and psychology, who we suspect could be afflicted by the aforementioned bah humbug syndrome, would argue that studies such as the present one overemphasise the importance of localised brain activity and that attempts to localise complex emotions in the brain contribute little to the understanding of these emotions. Citing a paper reporting fMRI evidence of brain activity in frozen salmon,10 representatives of this view have even coined terms for this practice such as “blobology,” “neo-phrenology,” “neuro-essentialism,” and “neuro-bollocks” (Grinch and colleagues, personal communication). Naturally, in keeping with the good spirit of the holiday, we disagree with these negative perspectives.
Das bei Menschen, die mit einer Weihnachtstradition aufgewachsen sind, andere Assoziationen mit Weihnachten vorhanden sind, die auch zu einer anderen Verarbeitung von Daten im Gehirn führen, wäre aus meiner Sicht nicht ungewöhnlich. In diesem Sinne noch einen schönen zweiten Weihnachtsfeiertag!