Biomarker For Happiness

There are biomarkers for everything these days, covering all aspects of our bodies and health. Still, the idea that there could be a biomarker for happiness seems far-fetched… unless you’re Matter Neuroscience. They’ve just secured the funding to try to prove it (https://longevity.technology/news/matter-emerges-from-stealth-with-26m-to-find-a-biomarker-for-happiness/).

Happiness can seem like an ephemeral concept. It looks different for every person, and it doesn’t always stick around for long once you’ve found it. There’s not always an obvious reason why it appears or disappears as it does. So how can any company hope to quantify it in terms of the brain’s structure, chemicals and electrical signals?

Enter Matter Neuroscience, a startup with headquarters in New York. It’s interested in the role neurotransmitters play in happiness. According to its research, they’re not just responsible for us feeling good; they also help give the brain what’s known as “neuroplasticity”. This is the brain’s ability to be flexible and adapt. People with improved neuroplasticity tend to be more creative, more empathetic and more intelligent. They’re healthier, and they’re happier.

This isn’t just a nice idea. Happiness has a big role to play in longevity. Plenty of studies show a correlation between better mental health and a longer lifespan. People who struggle with depression and anxiety will find it harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle, may become isolated from their support networks, and are generally less engaged with their own wellbeing.

Now Matter has an impressive $26 million in funding to accompany its emergence from stealth. That follows the public release of its app, which is still in the beta phase, where people can keep a record of moments of happiness. Reflecting on these moments through the app can allow users to explore the role that neurotransmitters play in their positive emotions and ways that tweaking their lifestyle may improve them further. There are also links to more educational resources to help people understand the science of happiness.

Experts involved in Matter’s research come from the Happiness Research Institute, Maastricht University Brain Imaging Center and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. They’ve scanned the brain with fMRI imaging to map out its responses to the positive emotions tracked in the app. They’re three years into their clinical studies, with even more planned.

There’s some subjectivity in assessing mental health, but this work could give it a more tangible basis.

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Biomarker For Happiness

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