Falling in love is a complicated phenomenon -- there's the courtship, which entails flirting, dating, and impressing the other person; and then there's the commitment. Social aspects aside, falling in love is also a physiologically complicated experience, involving areas of the brain the average person doesn't even know about.According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers at Syracuse University found that the act of falling in love can be explained by what goes on in the brain, not just by how we feel on an emotional level.Stephanie Ortigue, an assistant professor of psychology at Syracuse University, and her team of researchers found that twelve different parts of the brain work together when a person falls in love, including areas of the brain that are also responsible for intellectual activities.This raises an important question of whether falling in love has more to do with the heart or the brain. Ortigue has an answer:
That's a tricky question always. I would say the brain, but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart and vice versa. For instance, activation in some parts of the brain can generate stimulations to the heart, butterflies in the stomach. Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may sometimes be coming from the brain.
What's more, the results of the study suggest that the scientific basis of love can be quite useful in the fields of neuroscience and mental health.Science Daily reports:The findings have major implications for neuroscience and mental health research because when love doesn't work out, it can be a significant cause of emotional stress and depression...By identifying the parts of the brain stimulated by love, doctors and therapists can better understand the pains of love-sick patients.So if the brain can be used to explain how people fall in love, what exactly goes on in that complex organ of ours? According to Science Daily:...unconditional love, such as that between a mother and a child, is sparked by the common and different brain areas, including the middle of the brain. Passionate love is sparked by the reward part of the brain, and also associative cognitive brain areas that have higher-order cognitive functions, such as body image.Perhaps the most interesting piece of information from Ortigue's study is that the act of falling in love -- at least as far as the brain is concerned -- takes a mere five seconds. Now that's love at first sight!
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