Researchers: Power of the mind can stop you catching flu

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Dr. Jai Maharaj, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. Power of the mind can stop you catching flu, researchers reveal

    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    The Independent, UK
    Tuesday, September 2, 2003

    Scientists trying to find whether there is any truth to
    "mind over matter" say brain activity can control
    resistance to influenza. They have demonstrated a direct
    link between the brain's emotional state and the body's
    immune defences to explain why depressed people are more
    likely to catch a cold.

    Although there is considerable research showing a
    person's mood can influence their susceptibility to a
    virus, no previous study has found a direct link to the

    Neuroscientists led by Richard Davidson, of the
    University of Wisconsin at Madison, found electrical
    activity in the left prefrontal cortex - the region of
    the brain above the left eye - appears to play a critical
    role in directing the body's immune system.

    High levels of activity in the same region of the brain
    are known to be linked with a more positive attitude to
    life, with severely depressed people having a
    particularly subdued left prefrontal cortex relative to
    their right prefrontal cortex.

    Professor Davidson's findings are published in the
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They
    checked 52 volunteers witha brain scanner, measured each
    person's electrical activity in the left and right pre-
    frontal cortex before injecting them with a flu vaccine
    to see how well their immune systems responded to a
    simulated viral attack.

    Over the next six months, the scientists monitored the
    levels of flu-fighting antibodies that appeared in the
    blood of each volunteer. They found those with relatively
    high levels of activity in the right pre-frontal cortex
    produced greater amounts of flu antibody.

    "This study established that people with a pattern of
    brain activity that has been associated with a positive
    affective style are also the ones to show the best
    response to the flu vaccine," Professor Davidson said.
    "It begins to suggest a mechanism [that means] subjects
    with a more positive emotional disposition may be

    Scientists have demonstrated there is a link between
    pyschological wellbeing and physical health. Severe
    stress and depression also have a direct impact on the
    immune system, affecting chemical messengers called
    cytokines, which are needed to recover from an infection.
    Professor Davidson added: "Emotions play an important
    role in modulating bodily systems that influence our

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