The Neuroscience Behind Gratitude

According to Mindful magazine, a simple "thank you" doesn't just bring light to people's faces, it also lights up different parts of the brain.

A new study by the University of Southern California revealed how gratitude can impact cognitive processes in our brains. "There seems to be a thread that runs through subtle acts of gratitude, such as holding a door for someone, all the way up to the big powerful stuff like when someone gives you a kidney," says Glenn Fox, lead author of the study. 

During the experiment, researchers scanned participants' brains while they were feeling grateful to see where gratitude showed up. The researchers found that "grateful brains showed enhanced activity in two primary regions: the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex".  In previous research, these parts of the brain have been connected to "emotional processing, interpersonal bonding and rewarding social interactions, moral judgement, and the ability to understand the mental states of others".

The moral of the story is that gratitude isn't just about giving others rewards. Gratitude involves connecting with others and learning how see from their perspective. We encourage our community to act with gratitude daily, not just during this holiday season, but for years to come. Whether it be helping someone with their groceries, volunteering at your local community center, or inviting your friend to take a class with you at Community Well.