Saturday, 18 July 2015
25 March 2023
Koocheh Salamati - Falling in love

“In a fifth of a second”

2010 December 25

Dr. Avideh Motmaen-Far, Osteopath D.O. /Radio Koocheh

Researchers found falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second. It not only elicits the same euphoric feeling when using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain.  When a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem and release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopressin. Sophisticated cognitive functions such as mental representation, metaphors and body image are stimulated by ”feeling in love”. The fact that the blood levels of nerve growth factor, or NGF is significantly high in couples who had just fallen in love confirms that love has a scientific basis. Let us find out what love is!

There is no magic love potion that can be used to make someone fall in love, but chemistry does definitely play an important role. A chemistry between lovers is actually a torrential release of brain chemicals and hormones. When we are attracted to someone, Norepinepherine, both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, is secreted by the adrenal gland and works alongside epinephrine / adrenaline to give the body sudden energy in times of stress, known as the “fight or flight” response. The sweaty palms and pounding heart are caused by high levels of this hormone. Norepinephrine, also stimulates the production of adrenaline that makes our blood pressure soar when we are near the person we are attracted to. Phenylethylamine, or PEA, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that causes us to fall madly in love. It is a natural form of amphetamine that floods the regions of the brain involved in sexual excitement. Studies show that people who express high passion for each other have equally high levels of PEA. Dopamine, a naturally-produced chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter in the brain, and a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus is to blame for all the dramas we go through with romantic love. Dopamine is a natural stimulant. It gives you ecstasy, focused attention, motivation and goal-oriented behaviour. Dopamine is also associated with all the addictions.

Oxytocin is a brain peptide that flows to the rescue of what otherwise would be a short term relationship

It seems that effects of PEA last only for about the first three to five years in a relationship. After building up a tolerance to PEA, passionate romances can cool into “attachment.” Oxytocin is a brain peptide that flows to the rescue of what otherwise would be a short term relationship. It is secreted from the pituitary gland and bathes the brain and reproductive tracts of both women and men. This increases our sensitivity to touch and encourages grooming and cuddling in both sexes. It also reduces stress-causing hormones in the body. Oxytocin is released every time we hold hands or cuddle someone. Oxytocin seems to be the hormonal superglue that keeps us connected long after the PEA wears out. Lasting love confers benefits in the from of stabilized production of serotonin and oxytocin.

Nonetheless, some people seem not to be able to hold long-term relationships because they prefer the revving-up effects of brain amphetamines to the pain-killing effects of endorphins. Suppression of vasopressin seems to be the reason why males abandon their love nest and seek new mates.

Recent studies shows that different parts of the brain fall for love. For example, unconditional love, such as that between a mother and a child, is sparked by the common and different brain areas, involving the middle of the brain while passionate love is sparked by the reward and associative cognitive brain areas that have higher-order cognitive functions, such as body image. According to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology, the pain and despair caused by the rejection of a romantic partner may be the result of activity in parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction. The greater the number of days since the rejection, the less activity there is in the area of the brain associated with attachment. Also, areas associated with reappraising difficult emotional situations and assessing one’s gains and losses were activated. This suggests that rejected individuals are trying to understand and learn from their difficult situation, trying to find out what could be an adaptive response to rejection. If attachment responses decrease as the days go by and falling out of love is a learning process, there could very well be actual physiological evidence that time heals all wounds.

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