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How Your Brain Looks When in Love


Through magnetic resonance, this is what you can see in your brain when you’re under the influence of love.

When we fall in love we are flooded. We swim in a cocktail of hormones: oxytocin, dopamine, norepinephrine, vasopressin, adrenaline… that changes the climate of everything. And according to doctor Helen Fisher, who has been studying this influence on the brain for many years, falling in love takes the same amount of time to “elevate us” as a line of cocaine: a fifth of a second. But what is this well of addictive substances for?

In the brains of young people in love that she has scanned, Fisher found that when they are focused on the object of their affection hundreds of parts of the brain are illuminated. But two of those are the most surprising, she says. The first is part of our primitive, reptilian mind, which is the caudate nucleus, and about which she says:

No wonder lovers talk all night or walk till dawn, write extravagant poetry and self-revealing e-mails, cross continents or oceans to hug for just a weekend, change jobs or lifestyles, even die for one another. Drenched in chemicals that bestow focus, stamina and vigor, and driven by the motivating engine of the brain, lovers succumb to a Herculean courting urge.

The second is an area that, when it is active, potentially changes the entire architecture of our brain. From our cognitive capacities to the connections that we make within a cerebral network associated with reward, motivation and the regulation of emotions, formed by the anterior cingulate cortex, the caudate nucleus, el nucleus accumbens and the insular. That is, we become masters of chemical synapses to regulate the emotional flood that overwhelms us when we fall in love. But not only that. With all of that activation we can in some way “read the mind” of the person we love in order to regulate ourselves in terms of their emotions.

The augmented connection between those areas of the brain, neuroscientists say, could be the result of the frequent efforts by those in love to monitor their own emotional state as well as that of their lover. A person in love obtains the necessary chemical to monitor conflicts while adjusting the cognitive strategies that will allow him to maintain their romantic relationship for longer.

In the last century, the old theme of romantic love, which is so important for human survival, reproduction, development, inspiration and, of course, evolution, has also become a theme of interest to scientists. This most recent findings, thanks to the use of magnetic resonance, tell us that being in love, as well as supplying us with the necessary hormones to regulate the distortion caused by the chemicals that we release, also changes the architecture of our brains.

We are different beings, either more or less capable (this is to be seen in the next studies), but fundam

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