Science Explains Why We Get That ‘Warm and Fuzzy Feeling’ During the Holidays

According to new research, somewhere in our brains, there resides an area (or not) where there’s a spot for that warm, fuzzy feeling we get during the cold holiday season is held.

A team of scientists from Denmark associated with Copenhagen University have found what they dubbed as a “Christmas spirit network” in our brains which lights up when we see images associated with the holidays. Their research was published in medical journal The BMJ.

For their study, the researchers recruited 20 participants. Ten of the participants were ethnic Danes who routinely celebrated Christmas, and the remaining 10 included Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi or Turkish expatriates and also people of Pakistani descent born in Denmark who do not celebrate the yuletide.

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All of the subjects were shown 84 images individually displayed for two seconds each in alternating sets of six Christmas-themed pictures and six regular images without any references to the holiday.

Brain scans of the participants revealed certain areas of the brain lit up in the group with Christmas inclinations when they saw the holiday photos. For the other set of participants, this did not happen. The results confirmed the existence of the “Christmas spirit network” in some people’s brains.

“Who knows? Maybe someday there will be a complex machine that can generate the Christmas spirit in people,” joked study co-author Bryan Haddock to the Washington Post.

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“We are currently preparing a patent application on a Santa’s hat that you can buy for family members with symptoms,” he wrote in the study. “When they start grumbling at Christmas dinner, with the touch of a button you can give them electric stimulation right in the Christmas spirit centres.”

Haddock told the Washington Post that while the findings they’ve gathered from their tests were very real, they’re also “poking a little fun at scientific research.”

“When you finally measure something in a scanner, you have an overbelief that you’ve somehow decoded it. It’s a very small step in understanding the Christmas spirit,” he said.

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