Medical The science of romance

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Astronuc

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Brains have a love circuit
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090211/ap_on_sc/sci_love_science [Broken]

. . . .
In humans, there are four tiny areas of the brain that some researchers say form a circuit of love. Acevedo, who works at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, is part of a team that has isolated those regions with the unromantic names of ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, the ventral pallidum and raphe nucleus.

The hot spot is the teardrop-shaped VTA. When people newly in love were put in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine and shown pictures of their beloved, the VTA lit up. Same for people still madly in love after 20 years.

The VTA is part of a key reward system in the brain.

"These are cells that make dopamine and send it to different brain regions," said Helen Fisher, a researcher and professor at Rutgers University. "This part of the system becomes activated because you're trying to win life's greatest prize — a mating partner."

One of the research findings isn't so complimentary: Love works chemically in the brain like a drug addiction.

"Romantic love is an addiction; a wonderful addiction when it is going well, a horrible one when it is going poorly," Fisher said.
. . . .
The team's most recent brain scans were aimed at people married about 20 years who say they are still holding hands, lovey-dovey as newlyweds, a group that is a minority of married people. In these men and women, two more areas of the brain lit up, along with the VTA: the ventral pallidum and raphe nucleus.

The ventral pallidum is associated with attachment and hormones that decrease stress; the raphe nucleus pumps out serotonin, which "gives you a sense of calm," Fisher said.

Those areas produce "a feeling of nothing wrong. It's a lower-level happiness and it's certainly rewarding," Brown said.
. . . .
Figures that this subject would be a topic on Valentine's Day, but it is interesting.
 
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Q_Goest

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From the article:
One of the research findings isn't so complimentary: Love works chemically in the brain like a drug addiction.

"Romantic love is an addiction; a wonderful addiction when it is going well, a horrible one when it is going poorly," Fisher said. "People kill for love. They die for love."

The connection to addiction "sounds terrible," Acevedo acknowledged. "Love is supposed to be something wonderful and grand, but it has its reasons. The reason I think is to keep us together."

But sometimes love doesn't keep us together. So the scientists studied the brains of the recently heartbroken and found additional activity in the nucleus accumbens, which is even more strongly associated with addiction.

"The brokenhearted show more evidence of what I'll call craving," said Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist also at Einstein medical college. "Similar to craving the drug cocaine."
I've noticed that people getting divorced generally exhibit a behavior one might call "withdrawl". There seems to be a strong, physical reaction to the circumstances surrounding a breakup. These physical reactions include nausea and a general feeling of illness, lack of appetite, a desire to have that person back (analagous to a craving), and even physical affects such as diarhea.

So could it be there is a sort of chemical dependency - for a chemical produced by the body itself perhaps? The only problem I see with this is that chemical dependancy or addiction is generally something that requires regular doses (ie: intake) of some chemical compound, for example heroine or alchohol. But then again, things like gambling, shopping and other past times also seem to be 'addictive'. I wonder how the body becomes addicted to such things as love, gambling or shopping when there is no intake of a chemical. Is there a chemical produced by the body which stops being produced when certain interactions with our environment are interupted? Or perhaps there is a chemical produced when those things are taken away?
 

Astronuc

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I believe the chemical is dopamine, which provides pleasurable stimulation.

http://www.utexas.edu/research/asrec/dopamine.html [Broken]
 
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These physical reactions include nausea and a general feeling of illness, lack of appetite, a desire to have that person back (analagous to a craving), and even physical affects such as diarhea.

So could it be there is a sort of chemical dependency
During a few serious breakups I've been through I definately have a period where I feel nauseous and lose my appetite. Perhaps a serious breakup is similiar to drug rehab. I suppose being with that special person constantly pumps dopamine into your body. When that person is gone then the dopamine is gone (or atleast much less prevalent).

I was semi addicted to gambling last winter (although I was winning) and I would get a huge rush from playing. So I'm sure body chemicals were involved.
 
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The only problem I see with this is that chemical dependancy or addiction is generally something that requires regular doses (ie: intake) of some chemical compound, for example heroine or alchohol.
From the link posted by Astronuc:

Sensitization and desensitization do not take place only after long-term understimulation or overstimulation of dopamine receptors. Both sensitization and desensitization can occur after only a single exposure to a drug. In fact, they may develop within a few minutes.
 

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