Has it ever happened to you that after a good joke or a comedy on TV have you noticed changes in your mood the rest of the day? Well, some studies have been carried out to check the effects on the brain and the rest of the organism at the chemical and biological level.
Studied since the late 90 for its relationship with sleep and wakefulness cycles, and discovered that many narcoleptics patients suffered a large deficit of hypocretin-producing cells, a recent research published in Nature Communications has observed that the brain levels of this substance not only fluctuate depending on how awake or asleep we feel, but “are higher in the moments we laugh or feel happy and excited, and lower when we feel frustrated, sad or Pain, “explains researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in their study.
These results are the first to associate the neurotransmitter hypocretin to emotional states. The investigators first analyzed rats ‘ brains to verify that hypocretin are modulated in the amygdala and hypothalamus, and from there they are distributed to different areas of the brain. But in a second phase they studied the changes of this neurotransmitter in eight patients with epilepsy, recording every 15 minutes the activity they were doing, their subjective mood, and what was their level of hypocretin.
The observations were that the hypocretin was actually higher in times of greater wakefulness, but there were also significant fluctuations in terms of mood: high during social interaction and well-being, and low during pain or Decay.
As in any chemical debate-behavior, it is necessary to check if it is a positive experience that activates the synthesis of hypocretin, or if the rise of hypocretin could make us feel happier, but the leader the study, Jerome Siegel, considers that “the Administration of Hypocretin could raise the mood and alert in humans. “F
Researchers also believe that this neurotransmitter could be the mediator of the close link between depression and sleep problems, and that “disorders in the pattern of activation of these systems could contribute to psychiatric disorders.”
In science it is advanced when independent groups confirm or refute results, but it seems that we can begin to incorporate the hypocretin as a new hormone associated with our emotions. In this case, good mood or animated humor.
Reference: Ashley M. Blouin, Itzhak Fried, Charles L. Wilson, Richard J. Stab, Eric J. Behnke, Hoa A. Lam, Nigel T. Maidment, Karl Æ. Karlsson, Jennifer L. Lapierre, Jerome M. Siegel. Human hypocretin and melanin-concentrating hormone levels are linked to emotion and social interaction. Nature Communications, 4:1547 (2013)