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We're gonna have to face it -- you really can be addicted to love


Pop star Robert Palmer was right when he sang about being "Addicted to Love".

Scientists have traced the origin of love to a part of the brain linked to drug addiction. It forms a habit out of pleasurable feelings of sexual desire that no one wants to break. The same mechanism compels the drug addict to keep seeking another "hit".

Scientists drew a map of love and desire in the brain by looking at what happens when people view erotic images of their partners and spouses. Data pooled from 20 different studies revealed that two brain structures, the insula and striatum, play key roles in sexual desire and love.

Both activated different areas of the striatum, a region located deep in the cerebral cortex.

Sexual desire stimulated the same "reward" neurons as those that respond to anything inherently pleasurable. The "love area", meanwhile, was involved in a more complex conditioning process that drives the need to repeat high-value reward sensations.

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Irish Independent