The Neurological Effects of Love

The Neurological Effects of Love

We all know that love affects our brain, but do you know how? Here are a few of the neurological effects of love:

Activation of the striatum — The striatum is the part of the brain that houses the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that is your “pleasure center”. When you feel intense romantic attraction to someone else, that part of the brain is activated and you are flooded with feelings of pleasure. This is why it’s so wonderful to fall in love!

Activation of the insula — The insula is the part of your brain that assigns value to activities, both pleasurable (like hobbies or passions) and life-sustaining (breathing, eating, etc.). When you develop intense romantic feelings for someone else, this part of the brain is activated. You start to find more pleasure in the basic activities, and you are stimulated to keep engaging in them. It’s why you feel so happy in all of the mundane, routine tasks you go about during the day, food and drink tastes better, and life looks better.

An interesting result of one study found that the brain is activated differently according to the stimuli. The researchers showed a variety of photos to their test subjects:

  • Photos of loved ones
  • Photos of strangers
  • Photos of friends
  • Pornographic photos

All of the photos activated the pleasure center of the brain (the striatum), but only the pictures of loved ones activated the insula. This means that love is very different from sexual attraction, at least in the brain! Your brain reacts very differently to love than to the raw physical desire.

The human brain is a wonderful thing, and it’s even more wonderful when hooked on the most addictive drug on earth: love for that special man or woman in your life!

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