The joyful mind: the neuroscience of pleasure and happiness
Most of us aspire to be happy. We all intuitively know it when we feel it, yet we are surprisingly poor at predicting what will bring us happiness.
Is it the pleasure of good wine or great sex? The lasting pleasure of helping people in need? Or perhaps it is simply the quiet moments free from stress when we are truly relaxed?
Finding a definition that truly captures this feeling is not as easy as we might expect. For thousands of years ancient contemplative traditions have examined the nature of happiness. More recently, the fields of neuroscience and positive psychology have attempted to do the same.
While these efforts have produced many theories of happiness, there are two apparently divergent approaches to how to achieve it. One that has emerged from psychology focuses on a “happiness of pursuit” by searching for pleasurable and meaningful experiences. Another, which comes from ancient contemplative traditions, views happiness as being quite separate from the search for pleasure. Instead, it sees it as a skill that can be trained through meditation.
Morten Kringelbach will argue that a new understanding of how the brain generates pleasure could lead to better treatment of addiction and depression - and perhaps even to a new science of happiness.
Afterwards, more joy in the brain with alcohol streaming up to the neurons while Jakob Schmid and Peter Buchardt will take the stage with live electronic music and live visuals. Jakob Schmid has been making music on computers for decades, starting in the early 90s. He will be performing a live version of his soundtrack for the award-winning video game '140'. It’ll be a fusion of several genres, including techno, dubstep, and ambient. The music will be accompanied by glitchy VHS-inspired live visuals performed by sidek1ck aka Peter Buchardt.
Professor Morten L. Kringelbach, is the director of the Hedonia: TrygFonden Research Group. He is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and a Professor at Aarhus University, as well as Senior Research Fellow at Queens College, University of Oxford.