If you think the glass is half empty, you’re a pessimist—but if you think it’s half full, you have strong activity in your rostral anterior cingulate cortex. That’s the section of the brain, located right behind the eyes, that controls optimism, according to a new study that pulls together new research and confirms old theories such as the “optimism bias.”
In the study, participants envisioned upcoming events positively, rather than negatively or neutrally, the AP reports. As those sunny predictions flowed, the rostral region lit up on brain scanners. More optimistic people had constantly brighter regions, while the area seemed to malfunction in the depressed. A healthy optimism bias is an advantage, researchers say, because constant pessimism discourages us from taking action.