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Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Science of Love

Brain Research Gives Interesting Results

In our rapidly changing world more and more brain research has come up with knowledge about overeating, psychological problems, addictions, and much more. The Valentine's Day issue of Parade featured an article on "The Science of Love" by Judith Newman. Researchers using MRI's study brain activity for everything from diagnosing ADHD to the interplay of hormones and neurotransmitters experienced by couples who "fall in love".

Brain Activity Related to Love

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is central to the brain's reward circuitry. Norepinephrine, a stimulant related to dopamine can give energy, sleeplessness, elation, loss of appetite, butterflies in the stomach. Serotonin, a neurochemical that creates feelings of calm, is present in lower levels in those newly in love. There is a relationship between love and anxiety and fear. In 2004, researchers from Italy's University of Pisa released a study that measured hormonal activity in 24 young people who reported having recently fallen in love. They had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than their workaday counterparts.

What Does Brain Research Mean for You?

Does the science of love mean we have no control over how we love? I don't think so. It helps us understand how wonderfully we are created. Mindfulness can be a key to understanding how to love in positive ways. We can control what messages we send our brains. We can value and nurture trust which promotes greater activation in serotonin and opiad-rich areas associated with elevated calmness and leisure. That is what becoming soul mates is all about.

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