New research shows that how we feel can have a long term effect on our brain health.

Negative emotions can modify neuronal connections, aging the brain and promoting the onset of neurodegenerative diseases and dementia, according to a study carried out as part of a European research project co-directed by neuroscientists at the University of Geneva.

This article explores how we feel emotionally not only impacts us physically, but affects how we think. Not a new concept really, however without robust scientific research, it is hard for logical concepts like this to gain traction as evidenced based practice.

What is known:

  • An ability to change emotions quickly is beneficial for mental health
  • For those who are unable to regulate their emotions and tend remain in the same emotional state for a long time, are at higher risk for depression.
  • Some people develop emotional inertia so that their brain remains “frozen” in a negative state, by relating the suffering of others to their own emotional memories and thus, pathologically age faster than others.
  • The posterior cingulate cortex and the amygdala are the two brain regions involved in the management of emotions and autobiographical memory, and they are strongly affected by negative emotions, anxiety, and depression.
  • People who show more anxiety, rumination, and negative emotions, tend to display accentuated changes in connectivity between these two regions of the brain, which could indicate a deviation from the normal aging phenomenon.
  • The posterior cingulate cortex is one of the regions most affected by dementia, suggesting that the presence of these negative emotions could increase the risk for this and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Source: Medscape, 31 March 2023