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Using electroencephalography (EEG) techniques we explore the latest neuroscience research that suggests happiness can be located in a particular part of the brain. Scientists have identified the 'p...refrontal cortex' which they feel may be partly responsible for why we feel happy or unhappy. People who have more negative moods tend to have a more active right prefrontal cortex, and people who are more positive tend to have a more active left prefrontal cortex. Will we see a difference in the children's readings? -- 'It has also been suggested that we're all born with our own happiness set point in a similar way to each of us having our own body weight set point. Amazingly, when we know a child's happiness set point at the age of five, providing nothing exceptional happens, we can have a pretty clear idea of how happy they'll be for the rest of their lives. -- Activities that challenge our potential to the full produce an emotional state that scientists call 'Flow'. Flow is when we're so absorbed in a task that we totally lose track of time. Giving children and adults the opportunity to experience flow is essential for them to develop their full happiness potential. We ask our children to conduct a jazz trio to find out who experiences the most flow. -- We also explore the environmental factors responsible for a child's wellbeing - a secure attachment to their parents, a loving and stimulating home life, and an active social life. How are these all helping our children cope with life's ups and downs? -- Jamie Craven was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of four. This condition only affects one in 6,000 children. It could have knocked him for six, but instead Jamie is one of the happiest and most optimistic of all of our children. What has he got that enables him to stay so happy? -- Belfast-born Ethan is having serious problems concentrating at school. His teacher and parents are worried. Learning difficulties can cause all sorts of problems from self-esteem issues, to depression and frustrated bad behaviour. How will these difficulties be tackled so that they don't affect his happiness in the long-term? -- Rubin seems to be an outgoing and friendly child, but he's also very sensitive and takes things very much to heart. Is this linked to his traumatic birth as his mother believes? Or does he need more of his mother's attention in order to develop his self-belief and independence? -- Helena Young was born over four months premature and had to be protected from the outside world in order to survive. For the first four years she was kept away from other children and her parents made up for this by giving her every toy that they could. Studies on children have shown that those who value material possessions and fame over achievement and friendships are more likely to suffer from depression. Is Helena's unusual childhood going to affect her happiness for life?
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Series: Child of Our Time; Series 6
Episode 1
First transmission date: 15-01-2006
Published: 2006
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:59:10
Note: Information leaflets covering the series are also available
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Producer: Dinah Lord
Contributor: Robert Winston
Publisher: BBC Open University
Link to related site: Website:
Subject terms: Child development; Child psychology; Families--Great Britain; Happiness; Interpersonal relations in children
Production number: LSGB400B
Videofinder number: 7169
Available to public: no