Scientific evidence that having emunah and nullifying the ego heals? “Cultivating optimism heals the orbital cortex involved with anxiety and depression”
A new study links anxiety, a brain structure called the orbitofrontal cortex, and optimism, finding that healthy adults who have larger OFCs tend to be more optimistic and less anxious.

The new analysis, reported in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, offers the first evidence that optimism plays a mediating role in the relationship between the size of the OFC and anxiety.

Anxiety disorders afflict roughly 44 million people in the U.S. These disorders disrupt lives and cost an estimated $42 billion to $47 billion annually, scientists report.
The orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region located just behind the eyes, is known to play a role in anxiety. The OFC integrates intellectual and emotional information and is essential to behavioral regulation. Previous studies have found links between the size of a person’s OFC and his or her susceptibility to anxiety. For example, in a well-known study of young adults whose brains were imaged before and after the colossal 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, researchers discovered that the OFC actually shrank in some study subjects within four months of the disaster. Those with more OFC shrinkage were likely to also be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the researchers found.

Other studies have shown that more optimistic people tend to be less anxious, and that optimistic thoughts increase OFC activity.

The team on the new study hypothesized that a larger OFC might act as a buffer against anxiety in part by boosting optimism.

Most studies of anxiety focus on those who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, said University of Illinois researcher Sanda Dolcos, who led the research with graduate student Yifan Hu and psychology professor Florin Dolcos. “We wanted to go in the opposite direction,” she said. “If there can be shrinkage of the orbitofrontal cortex and that shrinkage is associated with anxiety disorders, what does it mean in healthy populations that have larger OFCs? Could that have a protective role?”

The researchers also wanted to know whether optimism was part of the mechanism linking larger OFC brain volumes to lesser anxiety.

The team collected MRIs of 61 healthy young adults and analyzed the structure of a number of regions in their brains, including the OFC. The researchers calculated the volume of gray matter in each brain region relative to the overall volume of the brain. The study subjects also completed tests that assessed their optimism and anxiety, depression symptoms, and positive (enthusiastic, interested) and negative (irritable, upset) affect.

A statistical analysis and modeling revealed that a thicker orbitofrontal cortex on the left side of the brain corresponded to higher optimism and less anxiety. The model also suggested that optimism played a mediating role in reducing anxiety in those with larger OFCs. Further analyses ruled out the role of other positive traits in reducing anxiety, and no other brain structures appeared to be involved in reducing anxiety by boosting optimism.

“You can say, ‘OK, there is a relationship between the orbitofrontal cortex and anxiety. What do I do to reduce anxiety?'” Sanda Dolcos said. “And our model is saying, this is working partially through optimism. So optimism is one of the factors that can be targeted.”

“Optimism has been investigated in social psychology for years. But somehow only recently did we start to look at functional and structural associations of this trait in the brain,” Hu said. “We wanted to know: If we are consistently optimistic about life, would that leave a mark in the brain?”

Florin Dolcos said future studies should test whether optimism can be increased and anxiety reduced by training people in tasks that engage the orbitofrontal cortex, or by finding ways to boost optimism directly.

“If you can train people’s responses, the theory is that over longer periods, their ability to control their responses on a moment-by-moment basis will eventually be embedded in their brain structure,” he said.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Original written by Diana Yates. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

The above scientific study says that the orbital cortex is involved with depression and anxiety and that by helping people be optimistic, it heals it over time….

Rabbi Asher Freund teaches that if we knew how good humiliation is for us, we would run into the streets to get humiliated.


When we suffer a humiliation, we are not stopped from doing mitzvahs or learning Torah as a person might be if they (heaven forbid) suffer from a physical illness. Because a person can choose to turn in emunah to Hashem, and move forward with mitzvahs, then, by that choice, only good comes from the humiliation – then the humiliation is being viewed as an opportunity to nullify what might be interfering with our feeling connection to Hashem’s love (rather than succumbing to the natural messages that accompany humiliation that lead us “as victims” to strengthening patterns that interfere with our feeling connected to Him).

The choice when experiencing humiliation to move forward with doing good anyway helps us nullify the apparent natural sense of self (the natural reactive self forgets all about Hashem when experiencing lack and our natural messages draws us away from remembering that Hashem is One and we are His emanation. Rather than remembering to reveal His Will through learning Torah, acts of chesed, doing mitzvahs, and praying, we are in our defense mechanisms and judgments, in the seething waters).

The goal of nullifying our egoistic self-focused messages is to bring us to the absolute truth that Hashem is the One Power (Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad) and that we are a vessel to reveal Him. With awareness of Hashem, our emotions regulate from a path that may take us to respond without awareness of Hashem. In that moment, speaking out loud to Hashem is an expression of emunah and bitachon that transforms our animalistic natural reaction into a speaking being.


Nullification of the natural messages – confessing the blemished natural messages from our self-consciousness -in Hashem’s presence shows Hashem honor by recognizing our Creator and our helplessness and dependence upon Him. Speaking out our blemishes in His Presence showers compassion upon the part of our soul trapped in those messages because we do not want Hashem in such a darkness and we beseech Him to please return to us whatever life force of our soul is trapped within that self-consciousness. What we want is to go above the natural pulls so that we may instead feel connected with Hashem’s constant love. We want to leave behind the false message, the brokenness, the messages we confess as our natural reaction.

What was filling that broken message – the Infinite Light that fills all – is drawn back to Hashem by His Compassion upon us, dissolving the falsehoods and unifying our soul to feel connection to Him.

With a full and sincere heart, we follow through by intentionally investing what is in our mind-heart vessel into a mitzvah, an act of chesed, a prayer, or learning Torah.

What had been in that false message now comes into the world in a vessel that reveals Hashem and advances the true reality that He is doing everything and He loves us.

When, with emunah, we accept this as the truth, then when we have a reaction that disagrees with it or throws us into the dark, our choice, instead of slipping into the dark messages and believing them and acting upon them, can be to turn towards Him, nullify the messages by telling Hashem – confessing where we naturally stand – and expressing our will to go above how we feel in order to reveal the truth, His Compassion.

What happens next is that the life force we have invested in something that is ultimately a deception is drawn back to Hashem by Hashem, out of compassion for us – and Hashem heals our mind – heart vessel as well as healing the spiritual damage we may have caused by investing our soul in false beliefs associated with ego and power as somehow independent from Him.

This takes strong emunah. And it takes trust in the reality that Hashem is doing everything and He loves.

Science calls it optimism!!!! We call it emunah and bitachon, love and awe of Hashem.

Nullification and seeing ourselves as one with Hashem are POSITIVE and HEALING optimistic steps by science, but spiritually, they are eternal life and simcha. Perhaps the science helps us to see nullification in a new light, in a way that inspires us to shower compassion upon the part of our soul trapped in self-consciousness and feelings of lack because we wish to reveal only Hashem’s compassion.

Nullification moves a person towards humility which actualizes our inner being!

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