How love makes us feel, deep in our brain, is what matters...
Brain scan studies have shown that early romantic love generates a unique pattern of brain activity. How do we know this? Well, to study love on the brain, researches put men and women in brain scan machines and show them pictures of their loved ones.
If we do a brain scan of the person in love, we can see that regions of the brain related to addiction light up when the person sees a photo of his or her beloved.
What looking at the picture of the loved one is doing is provoking the same response of neural activation located in the area of the brain associated with intense reward. This response is similar to the ones that appear when people take addictive drugs or gamble, or receive a strong jolt of excitement.
Even better, this work suggests, for the first time, that we can predict the intensity of the same love after 18 months in the future, by looking at how intense the brain patterns are now, during the early phase of romantic love.
Does romantic love translates across cultures? For instance, does a Chinese brain look the same as an American brain when it’s in love?
Regardless how many cultural differences are in ways to express love, they don’t change the brain’s neurological reaction to romantic love. The scans showed that love lights up the brain in the same manner in any culture.
“This measure doesn’t depend on culture,” Dr. Aron explained. “We were able to replicate our American findings in the Chinese culture where everyone thought love would be the most different.”
Dr. Aron said. “What the study does suggest is that love is a powerful force in human life. What is going on at the deep level of the brain is pretty much the same everywhere in each culture.”
Why is this research important? Because feeling in love shakes up our brains, makes them light with pleasure and thus transforms our lives...It is the basis for a healthy marriage. This is the emotion that we need to experience to restore balance, to make us grow in life and to fulfill a deep need for connection with other. There is no substitute for the brain excitement a new love can bring!