Science of Love

This Is Your Brain On Love

We all know that falling in love messes with your head. But what does it actually do to your brain? A lot. A 2015 study provided the "first empirical evidence of love-related alterations in brain functional architecture."

What Is Love?

After scanning the brains of 100 students from Southwest University in China, researchers discovered differences in brain activity between those who were in love, those who weren't in love and had never be in love, and those who had recently broken up with someone they loved (called what the researchers called "ended love").

Participants in the study were told to think of "nothing" during the scans, enabling the scientists to get a better idea of their everyday brain activity. As The Telegraph explained, "Those from the 'in love' category showed increased activity in several areas of the brain, including in parts that deal with reward, motivation, and emotion regulation, as well as in the social cognition network. The amount of activity in some parts positively correlated with the duration of love for the in love group. For the 'ended love' group, the longer they had been out of love, the lower the amount of activity detected in these areas of the brain."

The left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex showed increased activity for the 'in-love' group (LG).

So What?

While love has been the subject of poems and songs since the beginning of time, it wasn't until relatively recently that it was the subject of neurological research. But plenty of research bears out what poets and songwriters have long known to be true, like the fact that (you might as well face it) you can be addicted to love. Today, scientists continue to dig in to see what being lovesick is really doing to our brains.

Want to learn even more about love? Listen to our conversation with Dr. Eli Finkel, relationship expert, about the past, present, and future of dating on the Curiosity Podcast. Stream or download the episode using the player below, or find it everywhere podcasts are found, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Gretta.

Watch and Learn: Our Favorite Videos About The Science of Love

There Are Three Stages Of Love And Seven Chemicals That Make It Happen

The Science of Love

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Love is intertwined with the evolutionary survival of the human race. 00:19

  2. The brain of someone in love looks similar to the brain of someone on cocaine. 00:44

  3. There is a surge of dopamine and norepinephrine during orgasm and when we look at pictures of those we love. 01:21

Why Love Is Addictive

The Chemistry Of Love

Written by Curiosity Staff November 4, 2017

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