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Falling in love 'takes a fifth of a second and is like taking cocaine'


Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Library image. Photo: Getty Images

Falling in love takes a fifth of a second and produces the same high as taking cocaine, scientists have claimed.

Love at first sight really is possible because it takes just milliseconds for euphoria-inducing chemicals to flood the brain after setting eyes on the right person, researchers believe.

The first flush of love stimulates 12 different parts of the brain to start releasing “feel-good” chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression, a study at Syracuse University in New York found.

The same chemicals are triggered by a dose of cocaine – meaning that the feeling of falling in love is similar to that induced by taking the Class-A drug .

Professor Stephanie Ortigue, who led the research, said: “These findings confirm love has a scientific basis. But they beg the question: ‘Does the heart fall in love, or the brain?’

“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.”

The study also showed that different kinds of love affect different parts of the brain. Unconditional love - such as that between a mother and a child – is triggered 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.