Influence of Subjective Happiness on the Prefrontal Brain Activity: An fNIRS Study

  • Sayuri Oonishi
  • Shota Hori
  • Yoko Hoshi
  • Akitoshi Seiyama
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 812)


Focusing on the relationship between subjective happiness (SH) and emotional changes, we examined influences of SH on emotion-related prefrontal activity using multichannel NIRS. The International Affective Picture System (IAPS) was used to evoke emotional changes. Subjects were a total of 18 right-handed healthy students. Frequency of picture-induced increases in oxygenated haemoglobin (oxy-Hb) was evaluated. Subjects with a high SH score had a higher frequency of increased oxy-Hb in the left prefrontal cortex (PFC) while viewing pleasant pictures, whereas they showed a lower frequency in the right PFC while viewing unpleasant pictures. It is well known that the left PFC and right PFC are engaged in different ways in the emotional processes. Although further investigations are required, the present results indicate that the SH level influences the right-left differences in emotion-related prefrontal activity.


Subjective happiness Emotion Near infrared spectroscopy Prefrontal cortex Laterality 



This study was supported in part by grants-in-aid from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan.


  1. 1.
    Matsunaga M, Kaneko H, Tsuboi H et al (2011) Psychosomatic approach to health from the perspective of positive psychology. Jpn Soc Psychosomat Med 51:135–140Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Matsunaga M (2009) Associations among positive mood, brain, and cardiovascular activities in an affectively positive situation. Brain Res 1263:93–103CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Matsunaga M, Sato S, Isowa T et al (2009) Profiling of serum proteins influenced by warm partner contact in healthy couples. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 30:227–236PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Terasaki M, Tsunashima K, Nishimura T (1999) The structure of subjective well-being. Kawasaki Univ Medl Welfare 9:43–48Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fulbright RK, Skudlarski P, Lacadie CM et al (1998) Functional MR imaging of regional brain responses to pleasant and unpleasant odors. Am J Neuroradiol 19:1721–1726PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Paradiso S, Johnson DL, Andreasen NC et al (1999) Cerebral blood flow changes associated with attribution of emotional valence to pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral visual stimuli in a PET study of normal subjects. Am J Psychiatry 156:1618–1629CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Herrmann MJ, Ehlis AC, Fallgatter AJ (2003) Prefrontal activation through task requirements of emotional induction measured with NIRS. Biol Psychol 64:255–263CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hoshi Y, Huang J, Kohri S et al (2011) Recognition of human emotions from cerebral blood flow changes in the frontal region: a study with event-related near-infrared spectroscopy. J Neuroimaging 21:e94–e101CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Shimai S, Otake K, Utsuki N et al (2004) Development of a Japanese version of the subjective happiness scale (SHS), and examination of its validity and reliability. Nihon kōshū eisei zasshi 51:845–853PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bradley MM, Lang PJ (1994) Measuring emotion: the self-assessment manikin and the semantic differential. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 25:49–59CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Harker LA, Keltner D (2001) Expressions of positive emotion in women's college yearbook pictures and their relationship to personality and life outcomes across adulthood. J Pers Soc Psychol 80:112–124CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nakahara-Gondoh Y, Fujimoto T, Sensui H et al (2013) The effects of low-frequency aerobic exercise training on psychological well-being. Bull Phys Fitness Res Inst 111:8–15Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kawahito J, Otsuka Y (2011) Positive self-complexity, satisfaction, happiness, and depression in university students. Jpn J Pers 20:138–140Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Seligman ME, Rashid T, Parks AC (2006) Positive psychotherapy. Am Psychol 61:774–788CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Okada G, Okamoto Y, Yamashita H et al (2009) Attenuated prefrontal activation during a verbal fluency task in remitted major depression. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 63:423–425CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ueda K, Okamoto Y, Okada G (2003) Brain activity during expectancy of emotional stimuli: an fMRI study. Neuroreport 14:51–55CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schienle A, Schafer A, Pignanelli R et al (2009) Worry tendencies predict brain activation during aversive imagery. Neurosci Lett 461:289–292CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Marumo K, Takizawa R, Kawakubo Y (2009) Gender difference in right lateral prefrontal hemodynamic response while viewing fearful faces: a multi-channel near-infrared spectroscopy study. Neurosci Res 63:89–94CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sullivan RM, Gratton A (2002) Prefrontal cortical regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function in the rat and implications for psychopathology: side matters. Psychoneuroendocrinology 27:99–114CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Heller W, Nitschke JB, Etienne MA et al (1997) Patterns of regional brain activity differentiate types of anxiety. Abnorm Psychol 106:376–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tanida M, Katsuyama M, Sakatani K (2007) Relation between mental stress-induced prefrontal cortex activity and skin conditions: a near-infrared spectroscopy study. Brain Res 1184:210–216CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kotozaki Y (2012) Individual difference of the subjective well-being and automatic emotion regulation using affective priming. Jpn J Appl Psychol 37:135–136Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Northoff G, Richter A, Gessner M et al (2000) Functional dissociation between medial and lateral prefrontal cortical spatiotemporal activation in negative and positive emotions: a combined fMRI/MEG study. Cereb Cortex 10:93–107CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sayuri Oonishi
    • 1
  • Shota Hori
    • 1
  • Yoko Hoshi
    • 2
  • Akitoshi Seiyama
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Medical Devices for Diagnoses, Human Health Sciences, Graduate School of MedicineKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.The Integrated Neuroscience Research TeamTokyo Institute of PsychiatryTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations