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They found the same intensity of activity in dopamine-rich areas of the brains as found in the brains of couples who were newly in love.The study suggested that the excitement of romance can remain while the apprehension is lost.Richard Schwartz and Jacqueline Olds know a lot about love.
Dopamine activates the reward circuit, helping to make love a pleasurable experience similar to the euphoria associated with use of cocaine or alcohol.
Scientific evidence for this similarity can be found in many studies, including one conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, and published in 2012 in .
Her team analyzed 2,500 brain scans of college students who viewed pictures of someone special to them and compared the scans to ones taken when the students looked at pictures of acquaintances.
Photos of people they romantically loved caused the participants’ brains to become active in regions rich with dopamine, the so-called feel-good neurotransmitter.
“We know that primitive areas of the brain are involved in romantic love,” said Olds, an HMS associate professor of psychiatry at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, “and that these areas light up on brain scans when talking about a loved one.
Stanford Sample Essays - Research Paper On Love
These areas can stay lit up for a long time for some couples.” When we are falling in love, chemicals associated with the reward circuit flood our brain, producing a variety of physical and emotional responses—racing hearts, sweaty palms, flushed cheeks, feelings of passion and anxiety.
That study reported that male fruit flies that were sexually rejected drank four times as much alcohol as fruit flies that mated with female fruit flies.
“Same reward center,” said Schwartz, “different way to get there.” Other chemicals at work during romantic love are oxytocin and vasopressin, hormones that have roles in pregnancy, nursing, and mother-infant attachment.
“That’s the neural basis for the ancient wisdom ‘love is blind’,” said Schwartz.
If love lasts, this rollercoaster of emotions, and, sometimes, angst, calms within one or two years, said Schwartz.