This is What The Holiday Season Does to Your Brain

Scientists at the university of Copenhagen in Denmark have found a network in our brains that is dedicated to holiday cheer. While there is still a lot of research that needs to be done, here are five ways your brain may have responded this holiday season.

Your brain on giving: your brain’s reward system responds similarly when giving and receiving gifts. They are equally as enjoyable!

Your brain on gratitude: when reflecting on what you are grateful for, our brains experience more activity linked to emotional processing, social interactions, and moral judgment. This means people will then be more likely to continue this healthy social behavior.

Your brain on stress: When we experience stress, the section of our brain associated with emotion and memory is affected. This may be why so many of us become testy and forgetful.

Your brain on sugar: When you eat a sugary treat, your brain sends a signal activating the reward system. This can make these sweet cravings continue far past the holiday season.

Your brain on the winter blues: Don’t blame your winter blues on the holidays. This change in emotions may be because of a seasonal affective disorder, a seasonally recurring form of clinical depression.


Giving, gratitude and all that sugar can make you feel awesome. But the winter blues are real, too.


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.

Read the full article here.

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