3 ways the brain controls how and who you love
The brain is such a powerful organ because, as the saying below goes, it almost never stops working as long as we are alive, and while it is working it has a huge impact on how we feel about love.
When people talk about the brain and the heart, they tend to pit them against each other.
The brain is said to be a logical organ and the heart represents feelings and love.
It turns out that the brain contains many of our emotions in ways you might not have known.
Here are 3 surprising ways it controls your emotions.
How does love affect the brain?
However, there are some hypotheses that link the activation and deactivation of specific brain regions to specific behaviors and attitudes related to romantic love.
For example, romantic love “activates brain regions that contain high levels of a neuromodulator associated with reward, desire, addiction, and euphoric states, namely dopamine.
That’s why people in love experience a constant “high” — because dopamine drives us to connect with others and strengthen existing bonds.
However, when dopamine levels rise, levels of another brain chemical called serotonin fall. This neurotransmitter “is linked to appetite and mood.
This change could explain why people in love tend to become fixated on the object of their affection, which may lead them to think about little else.
People who are in the early stages of romantic love may experience a drop in serotonin levels common in people with OCD.
Where in the brain is love?
This is the most important question that scientists try to answer.
In 2000, scientists set out to find out. They conducted a study of 17 healthy volunteers — men and women ages 21 to 37 — who said they were “truly, deeply, madly in love” with someone.
In their study, they performed brain scans on the volunteers while they looked at pictures of their partners.
The scans revealed that some specific brain regions lit up when participants looked at the face of the person they were in love with.
These were the medial insula, the anterior cingulate cortex, and portions of the dorsal striatum.
However, there were also some brain regions that seemed to deactivate. These included parts of the right prefrontal cortex, the bilateral parietal cortex, and the temporal cortices.
Further research revealed an even more complex picture of romantic love in the brain.
There are a number of brain regions that are more active when people look at their loved ones than when they look at other people.
One study suggests that activation of the caudate nucleus and putamen (collectively referred to as the dorsal striatum) reflects that affection or response to the loved one is usually associated with positive reinforcement, more than the affection or response to other people or ignoring the loved one.
But other than that, we don’t really know what these brain regions are doing while people look at their loved ones.
Also, we don’t know if these brain regions are more active when people are in love than when they’re not.
1. The fine line between love and hate is in the brain
There is actually something to this saying! A study has found that the circuits in the brain for “love” and “hate” have identical structures.
Hate is often seen as an evil passion that should be tamed, controlled, and eradicated in a better world.
For the biologist, however, hate is a passion just as interesting as love.
Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead people to heroic and evil deeds. How can two opposite feelings lead to the same behavior?
Both emotions involve regions such as the putamen and insula that are associated with aggression and stress.
So the next time you jump out at a fight with your partner, remember this saying is true.
2. Love physically hurts — thanks to your brain
“Love hurts” is not just a nice saying, but the reality. There is also a reason why some old couples die within a few months.
Studies have found that regions that process physical pain are associated with social distress.
This emotional and physical pain can be relieved with physical pain relievers.
Perhaps Tylenol should also be used against “lovesickness”.
3. The brain also uses love as a painkiller
A study has found that intense feelings of love can actually reduce pain and be just as powerful as illegal drugs.
So it turns out that everything you feel is amplified by your brain.
When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant changes in their mood that affect their experience of pain.
We’re beginning to unravel some of these reward systems in the brain and how they affect pain.
They are very deep, ancient systems in our brains that involve dopamine — a primary neurotransmitter that affects mood, reward, and motivation.