What is love? MRI reveals what stages of romantic love you are in via brain map


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One of the most difficult questions in life to answer is “What is love?” Childhood games such as “He loves me, he doesn’t love me” sets the parameters for us to pass each other as validating love, but even after saying “I love you” to a person, we still can not understand the deeper meaning of the feeling. According to a recent to study published in the journal Frontiers in human neuroscience, activity in regions of the brain associated with reward, motivation, emotions, and social functioning is highest when we are in love.

The most powerful human emotion that can be felt is in fact seldom understood. The bewildering urge to grab hold of him led the term “What is love” to be the most searched expression on Google in 2012. Psychologists defined it as a different state of family or friendly love with the desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with another particular person, but what happens biologically ?

Love is known to have a variety of effects on the body which lead to feelings of euphoria, envy, obsession, and even personality changes. During instant attraction, the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex – the area that judges attractiveness in milliseconds – is immediately activated, triggering a chain of reactions in the brain. However, how exactly does the brain activity of lovers compare to that of others?

Professor Xiaochu Zhang, head of the study at China University of Science and Technology, and researchers from Southwest University, China University of Science and Technology, and School of Medicine Icahn in Mount Sinai, NY, investigated how exactly romantic love affects the functional architecture of the brain. A total of 100 men and women, divided into three groups – those who were intensely in love, recently ended a relationship, or single and never had a romance – underwent a brain scan. No significant difference was observed with regard to age, education or income.

The brain activity of all participants was studied using fMRI while at rest while they were not thinking about anything. This was done to help scientists get a holistic picture of their functional architecture. The brain map found a variety of results among the three groups.

The results revealed that, compared to other groups, those in the love group had more increased activity in several areas of the brain involved in reward, motivation, emotion, and social functioning. In addition, the researchers found that the longer they were in love, the more brain activity observed. Those in the completed love group were more likely to show a lower amount of activity detected in these areas of the brain.

Brain areas with altered regional homogeneity (ReHo), the amorous group (LG) and the completed amorous group (ELG). Before. Hmm. Neurosks.

Brain analyzes in the three groups Modified Functional Connectivity (FC) model from the three groups. Before. Hmm. Neurosks.

“This study provides the first empirical evidence for love-related alterations in the functional architecture of the brain. Additionally, the findings shed light on the underlying neural mechanisms of romantic love and demonstrate the possibility of applying a resting-state fMRI approach to investigate romantic love, ”the researchers wrote. This suggests that love can influence dispersive brain networks during general condition as well as brain networks for social cognition.

Falling in love is such an easy thing to do, but so difficult to understand, even for neurologists.

Source: d’Oleire Uquillas F, Liu Y, Kou J. Brain changes linked to love: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study at rest. Before. Hmm. Neurosks. 2015.

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