Neuroscientists have pinpointed the areas of the brain that help us to look on the bright side.I think being optimistic is critically important to survive. This study may help to overcome depression or pessimism in the future.
The group asked people to imagine positive and negative events that had either happened in the past or might happen in the future. Then, the volunteers rated their levels of optimism (as a general personality trait) using a standard psychological test.
Imagining positive events in the future was accompanied by activity in two areas of the brain that usually regulate how emotion affects memory and decisions: the amygdala, buried deep within the brain, and the front portion of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which sits just behind the eyes. Conversely, activation in both these areas dropped below average when the volunteers thought about future negative events.
The more optimistic people considered themselves to be, the greater the activity in the ACC. The results are published in Nature 2.