Researchers in Denmark have found that happiness is linked with brain functioning.
Their findings, published in the journal Science, could have important implications for understanding how and why some people develop certain types of mental health conditions, including depression.
They said the results of the study were very promising, especially for those with a diagnosis of depression.
“It is a really exciting study,” said Dr. Peter Mennell, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Copenhagen, one of the authors of the research.
“The fact that it shows that happiness correlates with brain function is really exciting.”
Mennells study included participants who had been assessed by psychologists, and who participated in a battery of tests that assessed brain activity.
The study included 662 people ages 18 and older.
The researchers looked at the activity of a part of the brain known as the insula, which is involved in processing visual information and memory.
This part of brain is thought to be involved in the formation of emotional memories, and in moods, according to the researchers.
Mennills study looked at people’s brain activity while they viewed a video of a cat.
He and his colleagues then asked participants to complete a series of questions that assessed their happiness.
The questions included: Do you like to play with animals?
Do you find animals cute?
Do animals have personalities?
Do cats have personalities and personalities?
Can you tell cats apart?
Do people think of cats as cute?
How do you react when a cat looks at you?
The participants were then asked to complete another set of questions.
The scientists also looked at participants’ ratings of how happy they were feeling at the end of the video.
They found that participants who scored highly on happiness were more likely to be happy after completing the video, and that happiness was associated with better performance on other tests of brain function.
“This suggests that happiness and other emotions might have an impact on cognitive function,” said Mennill.
“Our results show that this relationship might be the basis of the association between cognitive performance and emotional happiness.”
Maternal depression The researchers also found that when the participants were asked to rate their happiness after the video had finished, their ratings of their mood were correlated with the degree of maternal depression that they experienced during the pregnancy.
“We found that a higher level of maternal depressive symptoms was associated specifically with a lower score on happiness, and this was independent of the levels of maternal anxiety,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Eva K. Jansson, a clinical psychologist at Copenhagen University Hospital.
“There was no association between maternal depressive symptomatology and the degree or severity of maternal cognitive impairment.”
The authors of Mennlls study added that their study was limited by its small sample size.
But they said the findings suggested that maternal depression may be a more important risk factor for the development of depression and anxiety disorders in offspring than previously thought.
“If you look at all the people with these disorders, it seems to be the case that it’s a very significant factor, but if you’re a mother of a child, and you have some other stressor, you have to think about how you cope with it,” said Jansson.
The results of Mertels study were preliminary.
The next step in the study will be to determine if other brain functions can be predicted from happiness.