The Biology Of Joyfulness

by Patrick Appel

Huda Akil is exploring it:

I recently challenged my laboratory staff to think of animal models that could teach us about the biology of joyfulness, if not long-lasting happiness. My student, Javier Perez--possibly because he was in a joyous stage of life, having just completed a Ph.D. and fathered a beautiful little girl--rose to the challenge. He initiated studies on the impact of music alone or music coupled with an enriched environment (a space filled with toys) on the emotional responses of rats and associated changes in their brains. Although these studies are currently being run in adult animals, I have a feeling that we will shortly move to very young animals to determine whether such experiences have a long-lived effect on the brain and how. I am betting that the repercussions will last far beyond the momentary enjoyment, that such fun and positive activities will not only enhance positive responses in adulthood but also protect against stress and modify coping strategies. Science will tell.

(Hat tip: 3QD)