Love really is a drug, scientists reveal on Valentine’s Day
Published 14/02/2012 | 08:33
ROMANCE stimulates the brain in a similar way to recreational drugs, scientists have discovered.
The brains of people shown images of their lovers react similarly to those of drug addicts, a US experiment found.
Researchers looked at magnetic resonance images of the brains of 10 women and seven men who claimed to be deeply in love.
The length of their relationships ranged from one month to less than two years. Participants were shown photographs of their beloved, and photos of a similar-looking person.
The brains of the smitten participants reacted to photos of their sweethearts, producing emotional responses in the same parts of the brain normally involved with motivation and reward.
"Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs," said study co-author Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University.
In other words, you start to crave the person you're in love with like a drug, the researchers said.
Experts have said that romantic love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can have. Humans' brains have been wired to choose and win over a mate, sometimes going to extremes to get their attention and affection.
"You can feel happy when you're in love, but you can also feel anxious," said co-author, Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "The other person becomes a goal in life."
Brown said that the reward part of the brain, also dubbed the pleasure center, is an essential part of the brain needed to survive. "It helps us recognise when something feels good," she added.