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Search for the source of happiness has ended

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Seat of happiness found in the brain

Researchers have uncovered where happiness occurs in the brain. What does it mean now that scientists know the neural source of happiness?


Scientists have questioned whether we really even know what happiness is, despite our seemingly constant quest for finding ways to feel happy.

Wataru Sato and his team at Kyoto University have uncovered differences in the brain of people who experience intense happiness that they compared to those whose state of being happy is blunted.

The finding could mean there are scientifically proven ways we can become happier.

How brain discovery could help us be happier

One way that is proven to promote happiness is meditation. Researchers published a study this year highlighting findings that meditation can relieve depression as well as some prescription medications.

In this study researchers performed MRI scans on the brains of study participants to find the location of happiness. They then compared the images to survey questions submitted by the study group.

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They discovered people who report they are happiest have increased gray matter in an area of the brain known as the precuneus that is active when we're conscious.

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The finding explains why some people are able to experience greater happiness than others and why some people react more strongly to sadness.

There are several reasons some people are happier than others. The authors note there are neural underpinnings in the brain that can influence how someone reacts to happiness and sadness. The new finding suggests it is the precuneus area of the brain that mediates subjective happiness.

"This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research," Kyotoa said in a press release.

The search for happiness, of course, hasn't really ended. But Kyotoa said now there will be a way to quantify a person's level of happiness subjectively.

We now know more about what happiness is, scientifically speaking.

Scientific Reports
"The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness"
Wataru Sato, et al



Interesting. Do we suspect Big Pharma is searching the Amazon to find a plant and isolate a chemical therein that acts on the precuneus for a 21st century "Soma"?
I dont get that from this reseach. I think meditaton is one way as mentioned. We may move away from drugs actually!