A research team in Japan has identified the part of the brain responsible for all the happiness we experience using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests. The study team was led by Kyoto University researcher Waturu Sato. They found that the combination of satisfaction and positive emotions derived from different life events leaves a strong impact on our precuneus, a part of our parietal lobe.

Neurologists define happiness as a subjective experience based on a feeling whose intensity tends to vary from one person to another. Since a long time, psychologists have been trying to find the neural mechanism giving birth to happiness. However, in spite of all those efforts, this area has remained clouded in mystery; more so for neurologists as to date they have not succeeded in identifying the exact parts of our brain responsible of causing happiness.

During this new study, the team under Dr. Sato used MRI for analyzing brains of as many as 51 participants and for measuring emotions felt by them along with their subjective happiness. They decided to evaluate a couple of key parameters, a cognitive component, and an emotional component

The participants were made to answer a questionnaire for discovering whether they were experiencing happiness or not as well as for determining the level of their emotions. The questionnaire was also designed to determine the level of satisfaction in their lives.

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The findings that were published in Scientific Reports on Nov. 20 suggested that participants securing maximum happiness score have a greater quantity of grey matter in their precuneus compared to the ones who were not as happy with their life. For those who don’t know: precuneus is a part of the parietal lobe present in our cerebral cortex.

Also, the researchers noted that this part of our brain is also responsible for life satisfaction and the intensity of different negative and positive emotions. Following the study, the research team under Dr. Sato concluded that the precuneus of individuals who feel more intense and positive emotions, as well as that of happy people, are much bigger in size. Another remarkable finding of the study is that the participants found to possess bigger precuneus felt unhappiness less intensely.

Researchers are hoping that these findings will help in the development of more effective happiness programs.