Why Hope May be the Most Important Thing for Your Brain

Why #Hope May be the Most Important Thing for Your #Brain

The written content of the post was authored by best-selling author and neuroscience expert, Mark Robert Waldman. It is posted with his permission.

Embracing hope is probably the most important thing we need to maintain a healthy brain and lifestyle.

Here we'll use hope defined as faith combined with optimism. Hope stimulates the decision-making and problem-solving abilities governed by the frontal lobes. It stimulates the immune system, it motivates us to take action, and it turns off the worry centers in our limbic system and right prefrontal cortex. Without hope, we slip into depression and the brain begins to shut down. 

When you maintain a positive view about the future, you also stimulate the anterior cingulate, one of the most important structures for controlling your moods and improving social awareness, compassion, and self-love. 

Why not commit to exercising your "hope" neurons by spending one minute, each hour, believing that you can overcome the obstacles that lie in your way of achieving your daily goal? Then write down several action-strategies that you know will help you resolve immediate problems, conflicts, and fears.


Nature. 2007 Nov 1;450(7166):102-5.
Neural mechanisms mediating optimism bias.
Sharot T1, Riccardi AM, Raio CM, Phelps EA.

Excerpt from Abstract:

We examined how the brain generates…optimism bias. Here we report that this tendency was related specifically to enhanced activation…in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex when imagining positive future events relative to negative ones, suggesting a key role for areas involved in monitoring emotional salience in mediating the optimism bias. These are the same regions that show irregularities in depression, which has been related to pessimism. Across individuals, activity in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex was correlated with trait optimism.

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