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Symptoms Of Love - Relations
Symptoms Of Love - Relations

Video: Symptoms Of Love - Relations

Video: Symptoms Of Love - Relations
Video: 8 Signs of True Love 2023, April

With the help of modern methods, such as fMRI, it is possible to observe the work of the brain in real time and to identify the departments involved in certain mental processes. Including in love. This is the second article in a series of stories about love by biologist Alexander Markov. You can read the first material here.

Arterial blood rushes to the actively working parts of the brain, therefore, within a couple of seconds after excitation, there is more oxyhemoglobin, which, in fact, is recorded on tomograms.

Several studies have been carried out in which MRI has revealed the parts of the brain that are responsible specifically for love - romantic and maternal.

To understand which parts of the brain are associated with love (or something else), control is always necessary. For example, in the study of passionate (romantic) love, the brain's response to stimuli (a photograph or a name) related to the object of passion was compared with the brain's response to the same stimuli related to friends and strangers. Comparison of the obtained tomograms allows you to find areas that are more aroused at the thought of a loved one than a friend or stranger.

There are not many such studies, the data should be considered preliminary, but some patterns can already be noted.

The most important neural pathways of the "reward system" - mesolimbic (blue arrows) and mesocarticular (blue arrows) - are formed by the processes of dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental region (VTA). Through them, dopamine signals come from the VTA to the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocamus, and prefrontal cortex.


Romantic (passionate) love is associated with complex excitation of several parts of the brain. First of all, these are dopaminergic (that is, using the neurotransmitter dopamine) subcortical areas responsible for positive reinforcement (the so-called "reward system"). Excitation of neurons in these areas gives rise to a feeling of joy, pleasure.

These are areas of the brain in which increased activity is recorded when we think about a loved one (increased means higher than when thinking about strangers, friends, etc.)

Secondly, with passionate love, the departments related to sexual arousal are excited: the islet and the anterior cingulate cortex.

Thirdly, the excitation of the amygdala (responsible for fear, anxiety, anxiety) and the posterior cingulate cortex decreases.

There is also evidence that, against the background of love experiences, activity decreases in some areas of the temporal, parietal, prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for criticality and evaluative gaze. All this can lead to a decrease in criticism, alertness, a loss of sobriety (it would be difficult to fall in love if we looked at our partner soberly and saw all his shortcomings).

Neurophysiological symptoms of love:

  • The activity of dopaminergic subcortical areas associated with the "reward system" (happiness, euphoria) increases.
  • The departments associated with sexual arousal are activated: the islet, the anterior cingulate cortex.
  • Decreases the activity of the amygdala (fear, alertness), the posterior cingulate cortex, as well as the parts of the cortex responsible for the mind.
  • Departments related to motivation and goal-setting (caudate nucleus) are activated.
  • Areas that are responsible for social cognition, concentration of attention, mental representation (image) of oneself are activated.

The nature of the excitation of the subcortical regions in response to the stimuli associated with the object of passion shows that we are talking here not only about emotions, but also about the motivation of purposeful behavior (setting for rapprochement, connection with a loved one). This is evidenced, in particular, by the excitement of the caudate nucleus, whose work is associated with goal-setting, expectation of a reward and preparation for action.

In addition, when lovers are shown for a split second the name of a loved one (so that they do not even have time to realize that they have read it), the excitation of several "higher" (cortical) brain regions responsible for social cognition (thought processes responsible for interactions with other people, with society), concentration of attention and mental representation (image) of oneself.

Maternal love also manifests itself in the arousal of dopaminergic subcortical structures associated with feelings of pleasure and the "reward system", and there are many intersections with those areas that are aroused in passionate love. In addition, maternal love is associated with the activity of the same "emotional" areas of the cortex as passionate love (islet and anterior cingulate cortex). But maternal love also has its own specific subcortical area, which has nothing to do with passionate love - the central gray matter. This site contains many vasopressin receptors that are important for the formation of maternal attachment.

Thus, the active participation of the dopaminergic "reward system" in the formation of that mental state, which we call love, has been established. It is also clear that love is not only a feeling, an experience. It is also a motivation for active actions aimed at forming a connection (emotional or sexual) with the object of love.

These results were the basis for the neurobiological definition of love, which I mentioned in the first article of the cycle: "love is a dopaminergic goal-setting motivation for the formation of pair bonds."

Photo: © Andrejs Pidjass / Photobank Lori

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