Livin' on the MDedge

It’s all about the brains: Guilt placebos, transplants, and negative feelings


Ambivalence rules!

As the office’s unofficial Sith lord/Star Wars nerd, LOTME takes notice when science extols the benefits of unhappiness: “It’s good to be grumpy: Bad moods make us more detail-oriented, study shows.”

Ryan Franco/Unsplash

The investigators manipulated the emotions of participants by having them watch a clip from “Sophie’s Choice” or one from “Friends.” Then the subjects listened to short, emotionally neutral stories, some of which contained inconsistencies, with the text displayed on a computer screen. Sorry to say, gang at Central Perk, but round one went to the sad movie.

“When people are in a negative mood, they are more careful and analytical. They scrutinize what’s actually stated in a text, and they don’t just fall back on their default world knowledge,” lead author Vicky Lai, PhD, of the University of Arizona said in a statement from the school.

Negative mood. Careful and analytical. Grumpy is good.

You’ve fallen into Darth Science’s little trap, and we have you now.

A study conducted at the University of Geneva offers a slightly different conclusion. And by slightly different, we mean completely different. People over age 65 who watched a series of short TV clips depicting people in a state of emotional suffering experienced excessive modification of their neuronal connections, compared with those who watched emotionally neutral videos.

The brains of these subjects remained “frozen in a negative state by relating the suffering of others to their own emotional memories,” lead author Sebastian Baez Lugo said in a written release from the university.

Emotional suffering. Frozen brains. Grumpy is … not good?

So there you have it. Darth Science’s lesson for the day: A negative mood makes you careful and analytical, but negative thoughts are bad for your brain.


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