Kyoto, Japan – On November 20th, scientists from Kyoto University have published in the journal Scientific Reports the results of their study which seem to have found the location of happiness in the brain.

51 people participated in the study lead by Waturu Sato of Kyoto University which used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and questionnaires that assessed subjective happiness, the intensity of positive and negative emotional experiences, and purpose in life. They checked for both emotional and cognitive factors behind the happiness.

Scientists used MRI brain scans to find the location of happiness. Credit: Kyoto University

Researchers claimed they have found a positive relationship between the subjective happiness score and gray matter volume in the right precuneus, a region in the medial parietal lobe located at the top of the brain, towards the back of the organ. It seems scientists have located the part of the human brain that makes people happy.

The study discovered that the mix of positive emotions resulting from certain life events had the biggest effect on the brain’s precuneus. It means the results agreed with the widely accepted psychological model postulating that happiness is subjective. Differing from one person to another is true.

The results indicate that the participants who obtained the best happiness score had more grey matter in the precuneus, a region of the parietal lobe in the cerebral cortex, than those who said in the questionnaires were less happy about their life. This means that the precuneus mediates subjective happiness by integrating the emotional and cognitive components of happiness.

“Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus. This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research,” Sato said in a statement.

Previous investigations on the subject have found that happiness activated certain areas of the brain, although the previous studies investigated only the emotional component of subjective happiness.

Source: Nature