Ahh, what researchers won’t study. Is nothing sacred, even the most spiritual of matters of the heart, such as love?
Now research out of Syracuse University by Stephanie Ortigue (that’s her, pictured), suggests that there are measurable brain changes when a person falls in love. She gathers this idea from a review of the research literature of neuroimaging studies (studies that primarily used something called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI) that have examined people in love. She found that all of the fMRI studies of love point to “subcortical dopaminergic reward-related brain systems (involving dopamine and oxytocin receptors).” These are similar to the rewards a person feels when taking cocaine.
The study’s new findings are that there are 12 specific areas of the brain that may work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals — such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression. The love feeling also affects sophisticated brain thinking functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image. It’s no wonder people feel like they are “on a cloud” when in love!
So the next time you may be in love, keep in mind, it’s probably just all in your head. Literally.
Read the full article: The Science Behind Falling in Love
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Oct 2010
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2010). Love in the Brain. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/10/25/love-in-the-brain/