The Spirit of Christmas is Alive! (And is Located in the Left Primary Motor and Premotor Cortex)

Synopsis: Around this time of year you get lumped into either one of two categories: the Grinch or inflicted like Bob Cratchit with the ‘Christmas spirit’. But is the ‘Christmas spirit’ an actual thing? Researchers at Copenhagen University sought to find out. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to locate any existence of the ‘spirit’ in the brain. Researchers showed 84 images (every sixth image Christmas themed) to a group of 20 participants, 10 who celebrate Christmas and 10 who don’t, while using the fMRI. Afterwards,  subjects also filled out a questionnaire on the images.

Conclusion: Results showed five areas where the Christmas group responded to Christmas images with a higher activation than the non-Christmas group. These areas included the left primary motor and premotor cortex, right inferior and superior parietal lobule, and bilateral primary somatosensory cortex. The authors concluded, ‘Although merry and intriguing, these findings should be interpreted with caution.’


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