Have you ever had a gloomy day? Sometimes we just feel low and the bad mood sticks around for a while. It is hard to express the emotional turmoil that goes on for a while. We tend to hold on to negative emotions or cry over spilled milk for a long time, don’t we? Wait up, researchers have figured out why we end up feeling low for quite some time. Find out how.
Shake The Bad Mood Off
In a new study, the scientists have found that why our negative mood sticks around for a long time. They discovered that part of the reason is that the activity within the amygdala has control over the negative emotion of people. It can shake it off or decide to continue being gloomy. What a bummer.
The amygdala is a part of the brain’s limbic system that is involved in the key aspect of emotional processing, memory, and decision-making. The study supports how the amygdala plays a key role in how we process negative emotions. The research was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It was funded by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network and the National Institute of Aging.
A team of researchers from the University of Miami studied data from Midlife in the US (MIDUS) which is a study that began in the 1990s. The study has collected physical and mental health data of thousands of Americans which also included their psychological well-being.
A person’s brain especially the left amygdala region is fleeting with negative stimuli which makes it hard for us to let go of the negativity. It leads to a negative impact on our well-being. The author, Nikki Puccetti, and senior author, Aaron Heller explained that neuroscience research depends on how intensely the brain reacts to negative stimuli.
The Stages Of The Experiment
The participants of the study answered surveys and filled out daily diaries to note down their daily moods. The researchers even conducted interviews with the participants to get a better idea to measure their overall feeling and emotions. The participants had to attend a phone call for eight days and report the stressful events of their day. It could be a traffic job or computer problems but they have to describe the intensity of the emotion throughout the day.
The other part of the study required a group of 52 individuals to get their brain activity measured by fRMI scans. The participants were shown positive, negative, or neutral images from a database that was used in psychological research.
A neutral image of a face was displayed before the next positive, negative, or neutral image. They had to view 60 positive images and 60 negative images while their brain activity was mapped out. From the results of the fRMI data, they found that the negative outcome of people and psychological well-being is rooted in the activation in the left amygdala. When they were shown a negative affective image such as pictures of violence, it affected them even if the picture was removed.
The researchers found in contrast that for people whose amygdala activity did not persist after the unpleasant images were shown, their emotional response was normal. The study suggested the data noted these people were generally more positive and less negative in their lives.
The amygdala can help us be safe by detecting threats but sometimes it comes across as a ‘spillover effect’ when our negative emotions take over the way we view things. We may think that the danger might not fade and keep persisting which affects our opinions. Their findings proved that the ‘spill over effect’ may spill on a bigger scale than we initially thought it would.
Proving Why We Stay In A Bad Mood For A Long Time
The researchers quoted in their paper that individuals with greater amygdala persistence face negative moments that might become amplified or prolonged by imbuing unrelated moments that follow a negative appraisal.
Persistence could lead to a more negative effect on average in our daily life. The research stated that the brain-behavior link between the left amygdala persistence and daily effect informs us on the understanding of how it would affect us in the long-term in terms of our well-being. The research is open-ended so there is more to understand as the group of patients in the study was not of a large sample size.
The team added that apart from experimenting with a larger number, they have to figure out alternative forms of neutral images and explore higher-resolution scans that can detect other brain regions to demonstrate the persistent effects of affective imagery.
Puccetti in a news release mentioned that the longer the brain holds on to a negative emotion, the unhappier you are reported. The brain is holding on to the negative stimulus which decides whether the day was positive or negative. If we have less amygdala persistence following adverse events, we might have a positive outlook on life.
The researchers wrote that psychological well-being is complex, cognitive, and would come across a lifetime of experiences and evaluation to support the brain networks rather than just one region. The findings reported that amygdala activity has a huge influence on how a person feels day-to-day which can impact the person’s overall psychological wellbeing. Stay away from violence for a positive day. Cheers to some positivitea.