Are you the type of person whose heart aches when you see others in pain? Do you cry easily? Do you have an eery ability to pick up on social subtleties?
You may be a highly sensitive person (HSP), part of the 20% of our population who is genetically predisposed to greater empathy and responsiveness to social and environmental stimuli. And your brain functions a little differently than everyone else's.
As reported in Science Daily, a new study published in Brain and Behavior used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of brains to explore what works differently in the brains of highly sensitive people.
Using imaging to examine 18 people, some who were highly sensitive and some who were not, researchers could glimpse what was going inside the brains of participants as they viewed photos of smiling faces and sad faces, some photos of strangers and other photos of their husbands or wives.
The researchers found that those who were highly sensitive had increased blood flow to areas of the brain related to awareness and emotion, especially to areas associated with empathy.
Strikingly, brain activity in high sensitive people was at its highest when they viewed pictures of their spouses, with the greatest amount of activity occurring when they saw their spouses smiling.
That's enough to make even a non-highly sensitive person get a little misty-eyed!