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In a previous post, we discussed the stress-reducing benefits of loving interactions with close friends and family during the holiday season. In addition to family, there are many mood-shaping habits and activities that characterize the holidays: the smell of home-cooked meals, seasonal music, and reflection on the past year, to name a few. But do these have a real impact on happiness?

In a psychophysiology study, Matsunaga, et al., tested odor effects on autobiographical memory recall. The researchers introduced several odor stimuli to participants and measured their psychological and physiological reactions. Heart rate and skin conductance were recorded throughout the experiment with a BIOPAC data acquisition system. The odor stimuli resulted in decreased heart rate, increased skin conductance level, and an increase in positive mood states.

Another article tested the effects of meditation on emotional regulation. Participants completed emotional measures before and after a meditation intervention, and had their ECG, respiration, and blood pressure recorded using a BIOPAC MP unit. The meditation correlated with greater participant emotional regulation, as suggested by lower heart rate and respiration.

In addition to meditation and smell, Harmat and Eerola have found music to also be emotionally significant. Participants listened to a musical piece, and then responded to a questionnaire about their emotional state. In addition to measuring pulse rate and facial expressions, the BIOPAC Research System and EDA Amplifier were used to record skin conductance while participants listened to the stimulus. The results found that music samples evoked several emotions, including nostalgia and happiness.

This research suggests that we can affect happiness using subtle techniques that are part of everyday living. To read more studies about psychophysiology and stress reduction, visit the BIOPAC publication page.

BIOPAC offers a variety of equipment that can be used in studies similar to the ones presented. To find more information on solutions for recording and analyzing signals such as skin conductance, ECG, heart rate, respiration, and EDA using the MP160/MP150, and other platforms, you can visit the individual application pages on the BIOPAC website. 

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