Love in the mind
(Image credit:umnola, Shutterstock)
«Love looks not with the eyes, but with your brain,» as Shakespeare’s Helena said in «A Midsummer Night’s Dream» — as well as perhaps neuroscientists would agree.
Love may appear to move in mysterious ways, but scientists already have a pretty good notion of what love does to the mind. Being in love floods the mind with chemicals and hormones that produce feelings of pleasure, attachment and obsession. Here is a look at five ways love impacts the mind.
Hormones go haywire
Dopamine molecule (Image credit: foxterrier2005 | Shutterstock)
Neuroscientists divide love into three phases: lust, attachment and attraction. Through the lust phase, hormones flood the body with feelings of extreme desire. Norepinephrine and Adrenaline make the heart race and the palms sweat, as the brain chemical dopamine creates feelings of euphoria. The mind releases dopamine in response to other pleasurable stimuli too, including drugs, which explains the so-called lovers’ high. [How Do I REALLY LIKE Thee? Experts Count 8 Ways]
Works just like a drug
Study researcher Olga Chelnokova studied the way the brain perceives beautiful faces. (Image credit: Svein Harald Milde and Guro Løseth)
Even before people fall in love, seeing an attractive face activates the same section of the brain as do painkillers such as for example morphine: the opioid system. This part of the brain is accountable for feelings of «liking.» A recently available study showed that men who received small doses of morphine rated photographs of women’s faces as more appealing than did men who didn’t get any morphine, suggesting the opioid system could be «primed» to perceive attractiveness.
Makes the blood pump
An MRI scan reveals the gross anatomical structure of the mind. (Image credit: Courtesy FONAR Corporation)
Being in love increases blood circulation to the brain’s pleasure center, the nucleus accumbens. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans show this region lights up when individuals are in love. The surge in blood circulation usually happens through the attraction phase, when partners become fixated on one another.
Makes brain just a little ‘OCD’
(Image credit: stock.xchng)
Love lowers degrees of the mind chemical serotonin, a common attribute of obsessive-compulsive disorders. The serotonin drop could describe why lovers display such single-minded focus on the thing of their affection. These feelings may also cause lovers to be blind with their partner’s undesirable traits in the first stages of a relationship, choosing to target only on the partner’s good qualities.
Hormones create attachment
Men with higher degrees of testosterone will have a good attitude about safe sex, a fresh study finds. (Image credit:Yuri Arcurs, Shutterstock)
After folks have experienced love for quite a while, your body develops a tolerance to the pleasurable chemicals. The attraction phase gives way to the attachment phase, when the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin permeate the mind and create feelings of well-being and security.