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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Think Healthy Thoughts
2 September 2003 (All day)
Doctors have long known that stress and negative emotions can endanger your health, but they've had little idea of how the brain mediates this effect. A new study strengthens the link between emotions and the immune system.
A team led by University of Wisconsin psychology graduate student Melissa Rosenkranz played with the emotions of 52 adults just before they were given a flu shot. Subjects were asked to think and write about both extremely happy and extremely bad emotional experiences, while the researchers monitored their brain activity using electroencephalography. Six months later, the subjects returned and the scientists drew blood and measured the levels of antibodies against the flu virus.
Previous research has shown that activity in the right frontal lobe is associated with negative emotions. Activity in the left frontal lobe, on the other hand, is associated with positive emotions. In the current study, subjects who had the most negative emotional responses, as determined by high activity in the right prefrontal lobe, had fewer antibodies--a sign of a weakened immune response, the team reports online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "There's been a lot of work showing that stressful life events may produce some impairment in immunity but the brain has been left out of the equation," says senior author Richard Davidson. He predicts that prefrontal lobe activity will turn out to be a key part of that brain circuitry.
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University in Columbus has done research showing that the stress of taking care of a spouse with Alzheimer's makes people more vulnerable to getting the flu. This study, she says, "gives us good biological links" between a person's emotional state and their health.