How the fab four can warm you up: Researchers find nostalgia, and even listening to the Beatles, can make you feel hotterResearchers found listening to old music or recalling past events could make people feel physically warmer
01:47 GMT, 4 December 2012
If you've drawn the curtains and turned up the heating but still feel a bit chilly, cosy up with some old photos.
Nostalgic thoughts literally give us a warm glow, a study has found. Not only do heart-warming memories make it easier for us to withstand cold temperatures, they also make us feel physically warmer.
It is thought the phenomenon can be explained by a cross-over in the brain, with a region involved in feelings also being key to how the body feels.
Researchers say that recalling nostalgic events can actually make people feel warmer
The finding comes from Southampton University researchers who carried out five experiments into the link between sentiment and perception of temperature. In one, volunteers who noted how nostalgic they felt each day for a month were found to have felt more sentimental on colder days, suggesting we somehow retrieve happy memories when physically cold.
Another experiment showed people felt physically warmer after listening to songs that evoked memories of childhood, the journal Emotion reports. Researcher Dr Tim Wildschut said that while such thoughts may not actually make us physically warmer, they seem to make us feel warmer.
He said: ‘There is a lot of research which indicates that the physical state of the body doesn’t always correspond with how the body feels to us.
‘That means we may feel warm subjectively, even though we are physically cold.
Researchers found that even listening to nostalgic music, such as the Beatles, can make us feel slightly warmer
'Nostalgia is experienced frequently and virtually by everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort.
'For example, nostalgic reverie can combat loneliness.
'We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can also maintain physiological comfort.
'Our study has shown that nostalgia serves a homeostatic function, allowing the mental simulation of previously enjoyed states, including states of bodily comfort; in this case making us feel warmer or increasing our tolerance of cold.
'More research is now needed to see if nostalgia can combat other forms of physical discomfort, besides low temperature.'
The study, published in the journal Emotion, was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University and Tilburg University.
'Nostalgic reverie can combat loneliness. We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can also maintain physiological comfort.'
The volunteers, from universities in China and the Netherlands, took part in one of five studies.
The first asked participants to keep an account of their nostalgic feelings over 30 days. Results showed they felt more nostalgic on colder days.
The second study put participants in one of three rooms: cold (20C), comfortable (24C) and hot (28C), and then measured how nostalgic they felt. Participants felt more nostalgic in the cold room than in the comfortable and hot rooms.
The third study used music to evoke nostalgia to see if it was linked to warmth.
The participants who said the music made them feel nostalgic also tended to say that the music made them feel physically warmer.
The fourth study tested the effect of nostalgia on physical warmth by placing participants in a cold room and instructing them to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past.
They were then asked to guess the temperature of the room. Those who recalled a nostalgic event perceived the room they were in to be warmer.
Study five again instructed participants to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They then placed their hand in ice-cold water to see how long they could stand it. Findings showed that the volunteers who indulged in nostalgia held their hand in the water for longer.