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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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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.