What does neuroscience say about love?
Love is addictive
When you think about the one you love, the activity from your ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain is producing dopamine (pleasure neurotransmitter) and it sends to the nucleus of the brain a strong wave of this type of neurotransmitter.
Also, the brain that is in love experiments a stress decrease by declining the level of norepinephrine, that increases heart rate and blood pressure, the effects being similar with the metamphetamine’s ones.
Love is obsessive
When the brain is in love, it passes through a strong decrease of the serotonine level. This hormone gives the control feeling and adjusts the anxiety level. When it is low, the control feeling is also low and we begin to feel obsessive over the things that give us the feeling we are not in control – so, love is unpredictable and it is a strong target for obsession.
Love is reckless
The prefrontal cortex – our source of rationality, comand and the center of control – experiences a decrease in functioning when we are in love. Meanwhile the amygdala, an important part of the threat-response brain system, is more inhibated than normal. This combination prones us to risking more.
Love and lust co-exist – but not only for the same person
These two can be separated, but, in the brain, they can cover the same neuronal system. They both produce euphoria and can be addictive, by functioning in the same areas of the brain, but they are different enough for being felt for different persons. It means you can be in love with someone and feel sexual attraction for somebody else.
In time, the differences become more meaningful. For example, the brains of the persons that are in a long-term relatioship show low activity in the ventral pallidum, an area of the brain that is rich in oxytocine and vasopressors receptors, that facilitate the long-term attachment.
Men are very visual, their brein show high activity in the visual cortex. And it can be seen in the fact that men are stimulated stronger visually, different from the women.
On the other side, women who are in love remember the details because their brain show high activity in the hippocampus – an area that is associated with memory. Also, the hippocampus of a woman occupies a higher procent of her brain.
The visual contact is a magic potion for the ones that are in love. The one thing that they have in common with the newborns is the fact that the visual contact is the most important ellement in emotional connection. It’s not only a romantic concept, but also a biological reality. Visual contact and smiling are a strong combination.
Also, vocal and verbal interaction, the voice of the partner are essentials for the love dynamics, facilitatting the emotional link.
So, we can say that love is one of the strongest cures for anxiety, offering not only chances for neuronal activation, but also for a rich life and the creation of a beautiful love relationship.
Author: Violeta Gudană