Anxiety, depression and negative emotions, you need to learn to let them go, to detach your mind from continuous, obsessive or sad thoughts to protect brain health. In fact, dwelling too much on certain thoughts increases the risk of neurodegeneration, especially in the elderly, as emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the prestigious journal Nature Aging by a group of Swiss scientists from the University of Geneva (Baez Lugo et al, Nature Aging, 2023).
The trace of emotions in the brain
In the last 20 years neurosciences have studied and analyzed what happens in the human brain when an emotion is felt. However, it was still not clear, at least until now, what happens in the brain as a consequence of the emotion felt and, above all, whether or not these consequences depend on the person's age. In addition to these considerations, previous studies have been able to observe that the ability not to cling to a thought or an emotion protects brain health, while, on the contrary, remaining in the same state of mind, brooding and saddening, leads to an increase of the risk of developing depression, which in turn is a fertile ground for the development of dementia over the years. But how can these processes be explained? The research we are talking about today offers an answer and a possible solution.
The importance of changing quickly emotions, the study
Scientists recruited 182 people, both young, average age 25, and older, average age 69 years. Volunteers were shown footage of people who were called upon to deal with very stressful or sad situations. The study participants then underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging to see which areas of the brain were being activated. Well, what has emerged is that observing scenes of suffering of others causes greater and long-term effects in the brain of older people, with even more significant results if people are anxious. In particular, these events have led to changes in brain areas, such as the amygdala and the posterior cingulate cortex, which are the seat of emotions and autobiographical memory. If we add to this that, in the case of dementia, the posterior cingulate cortex is one of the most affected areas, we can understand that it becomes of fundamental importance, for the purposes of protection from neurodegeneration, to interrupt the effects of negative emotions and anxiety on the brain. To this purpose, as suggested by the authors of the study, a solution can be provided by meditation, which allows you to focus on the here and now, detaching yourself from recurring, obsessive or sad thoughts.
Today's article proposes a very complex but fascinating topic and makes us understand, once again, the importance of meditation to manage anxiety, stress, depression but also to protect the future health of the brain.