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Friday, February 15, 2013

What goes through the mind of a lover?

When we fall in love we seem to forget the world and live only in terms of the other person.Suddenly, a powerful feeling takes hold of us and no longer want to be separated from the other . And until it is scientifically proven that when we fall in love "we lose the trial."

Can you measure love scientifically?
When We Talk About Love, it is important to keep in mind that science reformulated established concepts with new concepts, which may be related to the previous ones but not the same. This means that when we talk about love in neuroscience, we are not wanting to date reveal a hidden sense of what they felt Romeo and Juliet . What we are doing is addressing an issue of neurobiology we call "love".  Before modern chemistry, it was thought that the basic elements were earth, water, fire and air. The modern periodic table elements defined differently and we now know that, in this way, is more appropriate.Same with concepts like "memory", "care", "intelligence" and, precisely, "love." In everyday use, these terms have multiple meanings, so it is difficult to measure the science.What science can do, based on data and theory, is to replace these concepts with other well defined and that they can be measured. Love, from the point of view neuroscientist, is an experience that involves massive brain reward systems. This sentiment is closely related to the perpetuation of the species and, therefore, has a crucial biological function.Only in recent years, some research groups have attempted to study the neural correlates of human love. While the new technology provides very sharp images of what happens in our brain when we fall, we must be cautious in interpreting many of the results, as we only provide information of a relationship between a brain area and the state of infatuation.

How can we try to define love from neuroscience?
Love is one of the topics more elaborate artistic works. Great films, novels or poems are crossed by great loves. Similarly, love is a fundamental element in the mythic tradition or social history. And, of course,  is also an interesting challenge for neurobiology.

Based on research in social neuroscience, we can try to define love as a subjective mental state consisting of a combination of emotions, motivation (key in achieving goals and objectives) and complex cognitive functions. Today we know that love is more than a basic emotion, a sophisticated and complex mental process .

What effects and changes in the brain causes the state of love? What mechanisms are activated and why?

Love changes our brain and studies have shown that when people are deeply in love, have strong somatosensory manifestations: feel the love in your body, in your mind, are more motivated, are better able to focus their attention and report being happier. Studies of functional neuroimaging  (an investigative technique that measures brain activity) have shown that love activates brain reward systems (the same areas that are activated when people feel positive emotions when they are motivated and when they can expect a experience gratification) and disables the brain circuits responsible for negative emotions and social assessment. In other words: the frontal cortex, vital for the trial, when we fell off. Functional Neuroimaging shows that this deactivation only happens when someone shows you a picture of the person you are passionate and able to suspend any criticism or doubt .

The brain might behave this way by "high biological purposes", making playing more likely.If the trial is suspended until the most unlikely couples can join and play. Neuroimaging has shown, too, that a brain area important in regulating fear and regions involved in negative emotions off.  This could explain why we are very happy with the world without fear of what might go wrong-when we are madly in love. It was also noted that love is related to some specific activations in brain areas that mediate complex cognitive functions such as social cognition, body image and mental associations that are based on past experiences.

Is our brain far the love for a pair of maternal or fraternal?
Although maternal love and romantic love are clearly different, both activate similar brain areas involved in emotion, reward, motivation and cognition.  However, it was observed that a small region in the center of the brain, in the tegmentum, called PHG , is important and is more active for motherly love, as opposed to romantic love. This actually makes sense because this area PHG is specifically involved in the suppression of endogenous pain that people experience when they are deep and painful experiences, such as childbirth. addition, this area is important in the reward system. 

What percentage of influence does the brain when a person falls in love? Just choose affect the brain or other factors? Do you love with your heart?
Sounds romantic, but not true. The brain dictates all our mental activity: from unconscious processes, like breathing, even the most elaborate philosophical thoughts. 's heart, indeed, is the victim of emotions that originate in the brain . Social psychology studies have shown that the process of falling in love has to do with motivation: our past experiences are stored somewhere in our brain and, somehow, guide our behavior and decision making. Recent studies in neuroscience have found that certain cognitive brain areas, which play the role of storing this type of mental associations that are based on our past and our positive and negative experiences are activated quickly in love. It has also been observed in electrophysiological studies that these brain areas are activated in the blink of an eye,  in a fifth of a second, to see a stimulus related to the beloved. This means that the way in which we store our past experiences regarding the cognitive areas of the brain can have an influence on basic brain areas involved in emotion processing and visual basic. So, can guide our behavior and decision making.

Any word, from an evolutionary perspective on the reasons why we have developed the need to love people, couples, children, etc.?

There are many hypotheses about the role of love from an evolutionary framework. One prevailing hypothesis is that love has evolved as a result of interactions between the genetic basis of complex social connections and relationships between people and attachment.

One last thought ...

Brain studies and love form a social neuroscience is still in its infancy and there are many new areas to address. One would consider love as an ongoing process rather than as a stationary phase modulations and investigate individual differences along this continuum, between and within individuals, throughout life .
Similarly, these studies constitute a fascinating challenge to decipher the brain's involvement in the experience of love and, above all, to define what we mean by love. 


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