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Scientists Map Christmas Spirit In Human Brain

Update Date: Dec 18, 2015 01:36 PM EST
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With the approaching Yuletide, your brain might light up for the festive season. One team of researchers in the Copenhagen University says that the human brain exhibits the Christmas spirit.

Even as there is widespread joy, the team says "millions of people are prone to displaying Christmas spirit deficiencies," and this is dubbed the "bah humbug syndrome."

"Accurate localisation of the Christmas spirit is a paramount first step in being able to help this group of patients," the authors said in a press release, claiming that it will help in the "understanding the brain's role in festive cultural traditions."

Studying the brains of 20 participants, the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to measure the changes in blood oxygenation and flow that responded to particular neural activities. Hence, they could check the parts of the brain that were involved in the Christmas spirit.

Only 10 participants celebrated Christmas, while the other 10 did not. Scientists scanned every subject viewing 84 images with video goggles. Every image was shown for two brief seconds. For "every six consecutive Christmas images, six non-holiday pictures were shown," according to HNGN.

The results showed that "there are five areas associated with the Christmas spirit - the left primary motor and premotor cortex, right inferior and superior parietal lobule, and bilateral primary somatosensory cortex. These areas are associated with somatic senses, spirituality and facial emotion recognition."

The scan is exciting, and infuses the team with glad tidings! Still, the team is cautionary too.

"Although merry and intriguing, these findings should be interpreted with caution," the team said. "Something as magical and complex as the Christmas spirit cannot be fully explained by, or limited to, the mapped brain activity alone."

The study was published in the Dec. 16 issue of The British Medical Journal.

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