We all tend to lose our minds to the Christmas spirit each year, but the question is, does it physically alter our brain? Scientists in Denmark think it very well might.
The Christmas spirit comes in many forms. Be it the spectral figure that drops Dr Phil truth-bombs upon your selfish life, a faux-dairy faux-foodstuff that lurks in your fridge to enable your faux-feelings, or those weary eyes that slowly turn to tinsel as the days become warm, as all you suddenly want for Christmas is someone you can’t have.
However, is there any proof that the Christmas spirit actually exists in the brain?
Well, one Danish study endeavoured to jingle that hypothesis all the way, shepherding two disparate groups of people into one room. Those who celebrate Christmas and those who absolutely do not. From there, both parties were fed Christmas imagery while their brains were scanned with an MRI.
What it revealed, was as clear as the ruby in Rudolph’s red nose, as the Chrimbo revellers had more activation in the brain, sleighing the bells of their parietal lobules, premotor and somatosensory cortex. The parietal lobules are known to play a major role in spirituality. It basically enables us to experience a connection or sense of harmony with the world around us.
The premotor cortex becomes active in Christmas-happy people, most likely due to the recall of joyful emotions, such as eating treats with loved ones at Christmastime. Lastly, the somatosensory cortex is thought to be active when people recognise emotions in facial expressions.
So, consider it legit? Those who don’t subscribe to the silly season are sad angry people with dead synapses, and hearts of snow? Well, yes. But also, no. While the above areas could be dubbed a “functional Christmas network,” I wouldn’t be surprised if these feels are the same when we observe other holidays. Despite it’s brilliance, the study design didn’t distinguish whether the observed activation was Christmas-specific or the result of any combination of joyful, festive, or nostalgic emotions in general.
That being said, let us not Krampus the findings, and wheel out the Bing Crosby wholesale. It’s not our fault. Our brains told us to.