Love & Joy<br />Presentation by Eliza Jessup<br />
What is Love? <br /><ul><li>Love is a sensation of affection and attachment.
There are many kinds of love: familial, platonic, religious and romantic.
Love inspires poetry, music, art, and literature and is one of the most sought-after feelings.
Love provides physical as well as psychological benefits.
Healthy brain development requires lots of love and affection throughout the entire lifespan, but especially during infancy and childhood.</li></ul>Image: AkiyoshiKitaoka<br />
3 Kinds of Love<br />There are three kinds of love: lust, attraction, and attachment, and each has their own biological purpose (Sweeney 220). <br />Lust (associated with hormones estrogen and androgen) encourages mating.<br />Attraction focuses lust on a single person, conserving energy. It is believed to be associated with serotonin.<br />Attachment keeps parents together, providing plenty of care for offspring. <br />
Chemistry of Love<br /><ul><li>Estrogen & Testosterone: Hormones responsible for sexual drive.
Dopamine: Neurotransmitter released in brain’s reward system that causes feelings of joy.
Norepinephrine: Causes blushing and quickened heartbeats. Combines with dopamine to cause elation, craving, focused attention and higher energy.
Serotonin: Low levels of serotonin can cause feelings of obsession.</li></ul>(Sweeney 221)<br />
More Chemistry of Love<br /><ul><li>Arginine vasopressin: Found in brain’s reward system, activated by romantic love for women and men, and by orgasm for men.
Phenylethylamine: Releases dopamine in limbic system. Found in the brain, and in chocolate!
Sex pheromones: Chemical messengers that go between males and females, inducing mating.
Oxytocin: Hormone that contributes to trust and bonding. (Chemical structure pictured below).</li></ul>(Sweeney 221)<br />
Love & Brain Development<br /><ul><li>Young brains are shaped by their environment, and a loving environment will help the child develop trust and love for other people.
Maternal affection helps infants learn how to cope with stress. Cortisol floods a baby’s brain when they are stressed; overexposure may impair his or her ability to regulate cortisol levels. Expressing love to an infant by caring for them teaches them to regulate stress (Gerhardt).
Love deactivates centers of the brain associated with anxiety and sadness (Sweeney).
Hugging and other forms of physical affection increase levels of oxytocin and lower cortisol levels and blood pressure (Langton).</li></li></ul><li>What is Joy?<br /><ul><li>Joy is a sensation of happiness, contentment, and pleasure. “It is associated with an active embracing of the world, but the precise characteristics and boundaries have really yet to be seriously characterized in scientific research” (Lemonick & Cray).
Stress helps our brains learn to “bounce back”– causing us to become happier in the long-run (Lemonick & Cray). </li></li></ul><li>Chemistry of Joy<br /><ul><li>The feeling of joy occurs in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain (Lemonick & Cray), but it is not the only area involved. The hypothalamus, nucleus accumbens, and septum release neurotransmitters and endorphins that cause us to feel joy (Sweeney 227).
Dopamine “mediates the transfer of signals associated with positive emotions between the left prefrontal area and the emotional centers in the limbic area of the brain” (Lemonick & Cray).</li></li></ul><li>More Chemistry of Joy<br /><ul><li>People are predisposed to joyfulness; “more than 60% of an individual’s tendency [toward] positive emotions comes from his or her genetic makeup” (Sweeney 226). A more active left prefrontal area predisposes a person to joyfulness (Lemonick & Cray).
A major part of joy is anticipation- looking forward to something enjoyable. The nucleus accumbens is activated by anticipation, with a direct correlation between the level of activation and the size of the prize (Lemonick & Cray).</li></li></ul><li>Benefits of Joy<br /><ul><li>Enhanced immune system function: “people who rate in the upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines” (Lemonick & Cray).
Improved cardiovascular function (Tugade, Fredrickson, & Barrett).
Increased life span: “According to a Dutch study of elderly patients, upbeat mental states reduced an individual’s risk of death 50% over the study’s nine-year duration” (Lemonick & Cray).
Positive emotions can “regulate lingering negative emotions” (Tugade, Fredrickson, & Barrett): the happier you are, the more likely you are to stay happy.</li></li></ul><li>Why is Joy Beneficial?<br /><ul><li>Happiness is associated with lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that suppresses immune function (Lemonick & Cray).
When people are happier, they tend to take better care of themselves (Lemonick & Cray).
In a study by psychologist Robert Emmons at the University of California at Davis, subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: one group kept daily mood journals and rated their mood, another group did the same but included a list of daily hassles, and a third group kept a journal and included a daily list of what they were grateful for. Subjects in the third group “not only had the predicted jump in their overall feelings of happiness, but were also found to spend more time exercising, be more likely to have regular medical checkups and routinely take preventative health actions like wearing sunscreen” (Lemonick & Cray).</li></li></ul><li>Conclusion<br />Love and joy often go hand in hand, as love causes feelings of joy and joy opens our hearts to love. They are both important aspects of healthy psychology and have major benefits beyond just feeling good. If you spend time around children, be joyful and loving! It can only benefit their brain development. <br />
Annotated Bibliography<br />Gerhardt, Sue. Why Love Matters. 2004. Brunner-Routledge. Discusses the vital importance of love and affection during early childhood.<br />Langton, M. “The Health Benefits of Love”. 2007. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/443851/the_health_benefits_of_love.html?cat=5. Explains many health benefits of love. <br />Lemonick, Michael D. & Cray, Dan. “The Biology of JOY”. Time Magazine; 1/17/2005; Vol. 165 Issue 3. Explores the biology of joy and physiological effects.<br />Sweeney, Michael S. Brain: The Complete Mind. 2009. National Geographic. Includes the basic neural chemistry of positive emotions such as love and joy. <br />Tugade, Michele M.; Fredrickson, Barbara L.; Barret, Lisa Feldman. “Psychological Resilience and Positive Emotional Granularity: Examining the Benefits of Positive Emotions on Coping and Health”. J Pers; 2004 December. Talks about the benefits of positive emotions.<br />IMAGES:<br />Image of brain on slide 9: http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/01639/en/health/popup/nucleus.html<br />Dopamine image on slide 9: http://www.madewithmolecules.com/blog/?p=86<br />“This is your brain on joy” image on slide 8: Cover of book, This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin.<br />