If you have a lot of negative thoughts, you’ll get sick more often. Activity in the part of the brain called the right pre-frontal cortex is linked to negative emotions, while brain activity in the opposite direction?in the left pre-frontal cortex?is linked to positive emotional responses. People who have more right pre-frontal activity get sick more often.

Researcher Richard Davidson asked 52 people to recall one event which made them very happy, and one that made them feel sad, afraid or angry. The electrical activity in their brains was measured to see whether their left or right pre-frontal cortex was more active. Afterwards, each person was given a flu shot.

They were tested over the following six months to see how successful the vaccine was, and those who had the most powerful right pre-frontal cortex activity also had the worst immune reactions. The opposite was true for those who had the most activity in their left pre-frontal cortex, which is associated with happy reactions.

Davidson says, “Emotions play an important role in modulating bodily systems that influence our health. We turned to the brain to understand the mechanisms by which the mind influences the body.”

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