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Retro Analysis: The Science of Nostalgia

Last August, the Fox television channel adopted a cue from its 1990 program and debuted BH90210 a meta-throwback series with the original cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 playing in one Revision of the 1990-2000 teen soap hit. As a Russian nesting doll of a show, the 90210 reboot seemed to be precisely engineered to arouse the nostalgic emotions of its fans, who were teenagers and young adults when they aired and were now prepared for some comfort television. The premiere of BH90210 attracted 6.1 million viewers, a record for an original summer series in 2019.

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0 was just the recent attempt to recapture the memory To monetize popular culture. Alone in 2019, Cobra Kai (19459003), Veronica Mars (19459004), Will and Grace (19459004) and The Conners (19459004) feature a live action movie like Rambo: Last Blood Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Lion King and another Terminator recall stories and characters that resonated 15 to 40 years earlier. Retrospective series such as The Toys That Made Us provide a comprehensive inventory of the plastic that was on the shelves in the 1980s and 1990s. Retro consoles like the NES Classic are packaged as a gift and distributed along with retro pop music compilations. One of the few non-sequel or remake hits of the year 2018 was Bohemian Rhapsody an original film, which nevertheless dealt with the cultural currency of the late 1991 Freddie Mercury.

Nostalgia is so ubiquitous that it could practically introduce a unit of measure – Jason Priestley leaning in a locker could provoke a five, while Ralph Macchio could be an eight in a karate gi . The entertainment seems to be geared toward addressing children – not real pre-puberty children, but those who lurk in the heads of adults. Increasingly, researchers are trying to better understand why nostalgia seems to have a moment and how these exposures affect us neurologically. It turns out that preoccupation with the past can help us bring the present into context and prepare for the future.

Imagine this: It's late at night. You have finished your studies but have not taken a definite career path yet. Bills are stacked on the table, a monument to the responsibility of adults. Stress, anxiety and student loans are your thoughts. On a social media page, you'll see an advertisement for an old television program that you liked. This brings you to YouTube, where you can watch videos of cartoons on Saturday mornings. In the next few hours you will be hiking from one clip to another, happily returning to a time when there were few commitments.

That's nostalgia: a bittersweet longing or yearning for the past. (His counterpart, historical nostalgia, has a predilection for another era that you may not have experienced.) While this DuckTales episode smiles, it's not so much the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews as personal memories that put you in a relaxed state.

"A nostalgic episode means you will feel good, calm and peaceful," says Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York. "You stop feeling anxious. Your stress level drops. You get a warm, soft, blurred feeling. Her brain revives old memories when you saw a show as a child and smelled chocolate cookies in the kitchen.

According to Batcho, this attraction to the past is somewhat paradoxical. We are a forward thinking and forward thinking culture obsessed with the latest technology. So why dive into history? This could be because we accelerate too fast. Smartphones are getting more demanding every year. Things are changing so fast that the return to a static mood offers comfort. "People want to return to the feelings they had when they thought life was better," says Batcho to Mental Floss. "It triggers associative memories. You remember aspects of life from the time you saw a show for the first time. "A movie may be worse than you think, but it's tied to a time when you had an uncomplicated state of mind and a largely noncommittal life.

This predictability is the key. A memory can be distorted and details can be confused, but a happy memory will always be the same. Basically positive memories are often taken out of negativity. "It's reassuring because you are the master of this memory," says Batcho. "You know your own lived past perfectly, but you have no idea what the future will look like." The craving for nostalgia comes to a head during and after transformative life events – a marriage, a job, a death – because it provides stability and a peaceful reminder of a time when life was not so stressful. That's why nostalgia sources are linked to childhood and why it often takes 10 to 20 years for these memory disorders to occur. At this point, you have experienced a milestone in your life that might force you to look back.

"Nostalgia helps to remind you who you are," says Batcho. "It offers a comparison of yourself with yourself. Who were you then? Who are you now? Looking at something can trigger what you thought and felt back then. Nostalgia allows us to monitor and keep an eye on our identity. "

Context and comfort make nostalgia a generally pleasant and positive emotion, but it was not always seen that way: In the 17th century, the Swiss physician Johannes Hoffer defined nostalgia as a mental disorder, Suffering from Swiss soldiers sent to foreign lands, homesick and dealing with the details of their old lives, nostalgia can become bittersweet when inviting negative thoughts, but more often than not it is worthwhile.

A few years ago Mauricio Delgado, Rutgers University researcher on reward processing in the brain, returned to his former university to give an alumni talk, and Delgado was on campus for the first time since graduating, processing a flood of positive memories. During his visit, he felt comfortable and wondered what nostalgia would look like when she turned visualize urologically.

"I thought that might have some reward," Delgado tells Mental Floss. "I wondered if it causes similar processes in the brain."

With his team, Delgado published a 2014 study in the journal Neuron that provided concrete and intriguing evidence of how we process loving memories. After Delgado had asked his subjects to remember positive life experiences – for example, a vacation in Disney World – he observed the activity of their brain with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The subject pressed a key when it began remembering the memory and pressed it again when it stopped. They also evoked memories that made them feel neutral – they grabbed food or bought shoes.

When they evoked a positive reminder, the brains of his subjects shone in a very specific way. "They tended to recruit brain systems involved in the reward," says Delgado. Brain reward processing occurs in the striatum and prefrontal cortex, in areas that are rich in dopamine receptors and are active when people are thrilled to receive good news or to make psychologically or materially positive assets such as food or money. Nostalgia and those mental visits in the past offered neurochemical benefits, much like a lottery ticket or a "Like" on Instagram.

In another study, Delgado exposed subjects to stress, then recalled a positive memory. The act of remembering cushioned the cortisol reaction and led to a stress-reducing effect.

Although these studies were not aimed at pop culture, one can guess the net result. Popular media is a channel for pleasant memories, and pleasant memories lead to positive neurological changes. "It remembers and nostalgia is more like a TV show from a bygone era," says Delgado. "But nostalgia connects them." In another fMRI study, some subjects passed on the possibility of a monetary reward for a neutral memory to continue to gain positive memories from the past. The use of their internal time machine and their calming state was more valuable to them than money.

Nostalgia has been recognized by name since Hoffer's time, but it seems that in recent years the emphasis has been on retrieving content to provoke this reward response. The 1970s were not overwhelmed with reboots of I Love Lucy Gunsmoke or other 1950s material. What makes the 21st century unique in this respect? Why is the cancellation of a show no longer a guarantee that it will never come back?

According to David Gerber, emeritus history professor at the University of Buffalo, we may experience an increase in nostalgia due to the times we live. "We are in a phase of profound change," says Gerber. "It's not just generation-centric, it's global, there's an industrial revolution with new information, electronic technologies, and the globalization of markets – we're at a time of deep concern for the planet." Just as personal milestones can create personal nostalgia , political and environmental burdens can lead to collective nostalgia, and we want to return to an easier time and a simpler place, since the present time is a time of upheaval.

Gerber also excludes the influence of the mass media on ours Perception of time. "Media deliberately give generations their own identities – Baby Boomers, Generation X," he says, adding that these categories make it easier to feel at a restless time when a new generation, such as Millennials, passes by, to remind an elderly population that their hairstyles and her e music, and fashion is out of date making them over-conscious of the past they left behind.

Media makes it hard to forget: It's easy to examine your feelings about Woodstock when hundreds of articles about the brand's 50th anniversary abound. The desire to regain these memories is growing. "It's an emotional cushion for dealing with change," says Gerber.

Nostalgia also relies heavily on social media, where collective memories can easily be evoked by putting on an old ad for a lovingly remembered toy. "Now that more and more people are no longer living near friends and relatives, it's a way to keep someone at a distance. " B atcho says, "Nostalgia can also improve relationships when a party has positive connotations with something that was previously shared as a couple." The fact that sopranos rollover with an ex could trigger feelings of forgotten emotions. "Nostalgic memories can remind you that you love a human," she says.

Although nostalgia often separates generations, it can also bring them closer together. "Part of what we see is that it enables cross-generational connections," says Batcho. She cited the fact that her adult son was in college and wondered what career path he should take when he remembered how many times his mother St. Elsewhere was watching the NBC television series in a hospital shown, which was broadcast from 1982 to 1988. "He felt such a warm and hazy feeling in hospitals and realized that I had seen the show," says Batcho. "It's like second-hand nostalgia." Her son became a doctor – a decision he based in part on these memories.

Nostalgia often occurs when enough time has passed to experience a significant life event that normally takes years after life consisted of cereal and lunchables and when you had a wedding have to think. (Or a divorce.) But everyone's relationship to the past is relative. Breaking Bad went off the air in 2013. In October, a follow-up film, sets El Camino where the series left off. Is that nostalgia? If you have reached an important milestone in the six years in between, maybe.

Batcho notes that nostalgia tends to fade with age. In adulthood, we meet the crises of the present by remembering the past. In middle age and in our third acts we are dealing with an independent life, children and a career. Later, we find that there is more time behind us than before, and our perspective changes again. Nostalgia at this late stage can become bittersweet again. We remember a past that we can not reproduce.

Another disadvantage is the nostalgia. Like any pleasant stimulus, we can experience too much of it and become desensitized. After BH90210 hit record highs for its debut, BH90210 dropped week by week and eventually lost 60 percent of its viewers for the penultimate episode. There seems to be a limited desire to check in again at Beverly Hills High.

"There is a saturation point," says Batcho. "Once you satisfy your need for nostalgia, it loses its value. Like a good wine, it is best enjoyed in reasonable quantities. It should be a visit. "

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