This is what happens to the brain of a man in love.
The upcoming Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to see what the latest scientific research has to say about love. Neurologists have recently begun to study this feeling, so in many ways it is still a mystery. Vox.com.
When you fall in love, you become completely inexplicably obsessed with a certain person. The world narrows to an island for two. You feel a surge of emotion when you receive SMS or letter from your half. You are trying to spend as much as possible together. And all this is due to the activation of certain areas of the brain.
The first stage of romantic love is like a drug addiction.
Helen Fisher, a researcher at Rutgers University, uses MRI and other brain imaging techniques to investigate falling in love and long-term attachment. She believes that "there are entire systems in the brain that are associated with falling in love."
Fisher argues that passionate love and “adult”, long-lasting love-affection differ at the physiological level.
The brain of a “freshly loved one” is surprisingly similar to the brain of a person who is addicted to drugs.
Fisher conducted an experiment: showed participants of the experiment photos of random people and their lovers, while scanning the brain of experimental subjects on an MRI.
Certain parts of the brain (ventral tegmental region (WTO) and the caudate nucleus) showed increased activity when the test subjects were shown precisely their passions.
The stronger the person was in love (you will not believe, but the “degree of love” is measured by survey), the proportionally more activity was observed in the WTO and the caudate nucleus).
These two sites play a crucial role in the work of the reward system: they release the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing a feeling of pleasure. Increased activity in the WTO, in particular, is associated with all types of addictions, whether it is nicotine, alcohol, heroin, or gambling addiction. A new dose causes a new surge of dopamine.
Fischer explains that this is why so many people feel obsessive when they fall in love. "This is what gives us the high spirits and attraction, the usual companions of romantic love." She explains that in the initial stages, love is more of a need to be satisfied, like hunger or thirst, rather than a stable, constant emotion.
Falling in love, we stop being objective
The work of another scientist, Samir Zeki, a neuroscientist at University College London, explains why lovers see only virtue in each other.
Like Fisher, Zeki placed the test subjects on an MRI scan and showed them pictures of their halves. LIE, he found they have reduced activity in the amygdala - this area of the brain is involved in the decision-making process. The amygdala works more actively in situations of fear and stress, and according to research data, this area of the brain is actively used when interacting with society and trying to understand whether the interlocutor is lying to us.
That is, the reduced function of the amygdala makes lovers less prone to negative assessments and doubts, which helps to quickly achieve a sense of intimacy.
Non-reciprocal love is like breaking
Fisher also scanned the brains of men and women whom the beloved did not reciprocate. Their brain was similar to the brain of drug addicts who refused to eat and who suffered from breaking.
“If you get rejected, your brain is still active in the OBE,” she says. "We also find increased activity in areas of the brain associated with cravings and stress from physical pain."
That is, those who were rejected in love experience the same obsessive fixation on their object as happy lovers, but they cannot fulfill their emotional needs.
However, the researchers console: time heals. Over time, the activity of the areas of the brain responsible for attachment decreased in experimental subjects.
Long-term affection is different from falling in love
Behavior and brain activity in long-term love and love are very different.
Fisher investigated in MRI couples who have been happily married for decades. These couples also showed pictures of beloveds. It turned out that they have observed activity in the WTO area (the same as that of the “freshly beloved”). But beyond that, they had increased activity in the ventral pallidum, an area that animals associate with attachment to their mother.
According to Fisher, this area of the brain may be responsible for the strong feelings of attachment between people in serious relationships. “The feeling of affection is really very different from the feeling of romantic love,” she says. “Romantic love is dizziness, high mood, euphoria, energy. When you are in love, you are rather calm and contented. "
Fisher assumes that love and love exist for different evolutionary purposes. The initial “obsessive” love is needed in order to focus on one partner and conceive a child. The second stage - love and affection - is needed to stay with another person long enough to raise this child.
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