Hearts and minds

Love seems to be a “matter of the heart”, but is it really? Could it be that love is in fact more of a matter of the brain?

A new report titled “The Neuroimaging of Love” has been published. As the name suggests, this is no mushy piece looking at how to tell if he is really interested or what it is she really wants in bed. It is an overview analysis of many studies that have looked at what happens in the body when you fall in love and it brings together an overall picture of this complex state.

The first thing to note is that according to the research you can fall in love in one fifth of a second, or perhaps a more poetic interpretation may be “in the twinkling of an eye”. From that instant you are swept away in a brain-based biochemical torrent.

As you fall in love twelve areas of the brain work together to release euphoria-inducing chemicals including dopamine, oxytocins, adrenaline, and aldosterone. In people who are “in love” there is also a spike in the release of the chemical nerve growth factor (NGF) which causes growth and maintenance of neurons. Levels of NGF drop off again after one year of being in love.

The research also showed that falling in love activates similar areas of the brain to cocaine and elicits the same euphoric feelings.

All of this makes sense of the crushing feeling that occurs when love is not requited or when one partner ceases to feel it while the other is still immersed in the chemical cascade.

So now you are armed with a more complete knowledge of what is happening should you fall in love again. While you will be allowed a certain amount of moon-eyed gazing, knowing what you now do, in the interests of accuracy it would be best if when murmuring sweet nothings into the shell-like ear of your beloved you said, “I love you, with all my biochemistry.”

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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