What does your brain look like when you are sad?
While we may be able to identify some of the external signs of sadness in those around us, we have only recently discovered what is going on in the inside when we feel down. Pioneering research has revealed how our brains look and what happens to them when we are sad, and these revelations are fascinating.
How sadness appears in the human brain
Published in a scientific journal entitled Cell, the study involved numerous scientists who examined the activity that occurs in people’s brains, especially those signals that travel across different neurological regions.
The scientists found that when people are sad, the number of signals travelling between the cells of the areas of the brain involved in emotion and memory increase.
The research methodology
The study applied intracranial electroencephalography, or EEG, to study the participants’ brain activity. This involved placing wires inside participants’ skulls on and within their brains. All electrical activity between participants’ brain cells was then recorded using these wires across 7-10 days while the participants simultaneously kept a record of their moods.
The results show that in most participants, a low mood was associated with an increase in signals sent between the amygdala, which helps to process emotions, and the hippocampus, which is linked to memory. These findings suggest that negative memories and negative feelings are strongly related to each other.
The implications of these findings
It is not yet clear if the rise in brain signals observed causes or is the result of a low mood, but the discovery of this brain activity will enable scientists to focus their research on the regions of the brain they now know are associated with low moods.
In addition, the findings confirm that depression is linked to concrete, observable and measurable neurological processes, an insight that can reassure sufferers of depression that what they are experiencing and not imagined.