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Brain Behav Immun. 2008 Mar;22(3):408-17. Epub 2007 Oct 30.

Associations among central nervous, endocrine, and immune activities when positive emotions are elicited by looking at a favorite person.

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Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Aichi, Japan.


Recent studies on psychoneuroimmunology have indicated that positive psychological events are related to immune functions; however, limited information is available regarding associations among the central nervous, endocrine, and immune systems when positive emotions are elicited. In the present study, we demonstrated associations among these systems by simultaneously recording brain, endocrine, and immune activities when positive emotions were evoked in participants as they watched films featuring their favorite persons. Interestingly, the activity of peripheral circulating natural killer cells and the peripheral dopamine level were elevated while participants experienced positive emotions, and these values were positively correlated. The following brain regions were significantly activated in the positive condition relative to the control condition: medial prefrontal cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus, subcallosal gyrus, posterior cingulate cortex, superior temporal gyrus, and cerebellum. Further, covariate analyses indicated that these brain regions were temporally associated with endocrine and immune activities. These results suggest that while an individual experiences positive emotions, the central nervous, endocrine, and immune systems may be interrelated and attraction for favorite persons may be associated with the activation of the innate immune function via the dopaminergic system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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