So is neuroscience psychology just all in our heads? You betcha! And that's a good thing. Thanks to tests such as brain imaging, we now know that there is indeed support in our brains for the basis of neuroscience psychology. In Discover Magazine, writer Jim Robbins shows how the front portion of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) drives how we respond to life and our general outlook on things [source: Robbins]. So, if you're faced with adversity and still maintain a positive outlook, you have your prefrontal cortexes to thank.
Recent research takes this prefrontal cortex business one step deeper. As it turns out, our temperament and responses to the world around us are also driven by which side of our prefrontal cortex does the most work. If correct, one side of our prefrontal cortex is responsible for positive emotions; the other is responsible for negative. So just how positive or down-trodden we are may be linked to which side of our prefrontal cortex steps up to the plate and does its job. Those with an overactive right cortex or underactive left cortex may be susceptible to depression, while those with the opposite cortex power may tend to be more optimistic [source: Robbins].
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson tied neuroscience psychology to meditation when he examined Tibetan Buddhists in his lab. He brought in monks who were very experienced in meditation along with a control group of college students, and when he attached electrodes to their heads to test brain waves, he found that not only did the monks' brains produce gamma rays 30 times stronger than those of the students, but they also seemed to have more active brains -- especially in the left prefrontal cortex, where positive emotions come from [source: Geirland]. The experiment suggests that people may be able to increase positive thoughts and bolster the left prefrontal cortex through acts like meditation.
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