Home News Science Discover how nostalgia is activated in the brain

Discover how nostalgia is activated in the brain

A team of researchers has been able to discern the areas of the brain involved in the development of nostalgia and how this feeling affects us.


Nostalgia, that feeling of melancholy and longing that originates the memory of some circumstance or a happy past stage, can be mitigated when we visit the places that marked us positively at some point in our lives. In fact, the results of a new study by the National Endowment for Historic Sites or Natural Beauty – a British conservation institution – and the University of Surrey in the UK suggest that simply looking at these enclaves and recovering these feelings favors a series of mental changes that result in our well-being .

The test shows that when this occurs a large activity occurs in the amygdala, an area of the brain that is related to the implementation of processes that regulate emotional responses. Moreover, according to this initiative, when it comes to nostalgia, enclaves seem more relevant than objects. Thus, in a statement from the National Foundation, it is indicated that, for example, in the case of a wedding, the place where it took place carries for the bride and groom a greater emotional charge than the ring or the date. “For the first time we have managed to show the different benefits that can give us a physical space,” says neuroscientist Andy Myers, who has participated in this research.

Deep connection

To determine this, the researchers examined the neuronal activity of a group of twenty volunteers by magnetic resonance imaging while examining the photos of ten objects important to them and ten others of enclaves that were especially significant to them. “This technology allows us to explore automatic biological responses, and shows a link between people and places that is often difficult to describe in words. It’s a very deep connection, “Myers said in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper.

The perception of these important places not only caused a greater stimulation in the amygdala; also activated the medial prefrontal cortex, which participates in decision making and relates to certain memory processes and the ability to experience emotions.

In another larger work, 2,000 people were asked how relevant these special places were to them. About two – thirds said transmitting them feelings of calm and security, so they used to relax and escape from everyday worries, and nine out of ten said they deeply regret their loss. According to experts, more than 80% of the study participants described these areas as a fundamental part of themselves, and more than half considered them to be theirs. Likewise, the majority held that it was very important to share them with their relatives.

For her part, the conservative Nino Strachey, who directs National Foundation studies, also points out in The Telegraph that this research confirms that the places we cherish not only make up who we are but also provide important physical and psychological benefits, makes their protection especially relevant.


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