This Is Your Brain On Christmas

Photographed by Ida Hariri.
The BMJ is known for its lighthearted studies during the holiday season, and this year's Christmas issue doesn't disappoint. In a study titled "Christmas 2015: All In The Mind," researchers looked at how the human brain responds to Christmas decorations and imagery.

For this investigation into the human brain's "Christmas spirit network," scientists conducted MRIs while study participants viewed Christmas pics along with images not related to the holidays. The researchers found that, in people who claimed they had positive views about Christmas and its traditions, certain brain areas showed higher activation than they did in participants who didn't celebrate the holiday. In particular, the study authors found increased activity in the parietal lobes of Christmas-lovers; this area has been previously associated with feelings of spirituality.

The study only had 20 participants, and it's definitely meant to be taken in a tongue-in-cheek way (whether or not your parietal lobes are activated by festive scenery doesn't say much about you as a person). Still, it's an interesting and fun way of using science to explain why some people are more Elf than Scrooge.

By the way, one of the BMJ's other kooky studies looked into whether James Bond ordered his drinks shaken "because of alcohol induced tremor." The scientists concluded that Bond drank way too much alcohol, and the "shaken, not stirred" request could have been due to hand tremors that resulted from too much booze. Do with that information — and those holiday cocktails — what you will.

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