What exactly happens to our brain when we fall in love

Exactly what happens to our brain when we fall in love

The brain and love have always maintained a distant relationship in terms of their symbology. “Think with your head” or “I love you with all my heart” are boastful colloquial expressions that seek to separate reason from emotion. And there is no feeling that characterizes the human being more than the one that makes us lose the rationality that distinguishes us from the rest of the species.

Visceral and on many occasions indomitable, love invades the poems of any poet or poetess, the plot of millions of songs and novels and the common thread of the scripts of innumerable films. We all want to feel it and, even if we fail in the attempt, we are condemned to live the myth of Prometheus to see if we finally find that person who can turn the world upside down again. But what about love?

In the field of neuroscience, there are numerous studies that seek to clarify what happens to our brain when we fall in love. The most hermetic organ for researchers due to its high complexity -86,000 million neurons and billions of connections between them- has different areas, neurotransmitters and hormones that vary their activity and concentration during the process of falling in love.

The professor and neurobiologist Semir Zeki of the University College of London has spent years immersed in affective behavioral studies to understand the mechanisms that are set in motion in the brain in love. “Love itself is normal, but being in love is not a normal situation because people are in a transitory disorder, since they behave abnormally when they are in love,” he explained to Eduardo Punset during an interview.

Whether or not in a disturbing way -something for which you do not need to be in love- we show you what are the changes that science has been able to demonstrate so far that occur in the functioning of our brain when Cupid decides, correctly or not, to launch his arrows. According to Still Watching Netflix Here’s What Happens To Your Brain When You Fall In Love

love places

It is likely that little is said about it, but we could say that love is one of the most powerful drugs that exist. During the initial phases of falling in love, dopamine floods our brain, constantly activating our reward system. This neurotransmitter is secreted on the nucleus accumbens, known as the brain’s pleasure center, and on our prefrontal lobe to condition our behavior, directing it towards the insatiable search for what gives us pleasure. In this case, love.

However, dopamine is not alone. Hormones such as oxytocin and vasopressin that are released during falling in love from the hypothalamus -regulatory center par excellence-, favor the release of dopamine on these brain areas. It is this reward system that is constantly active in drug-dependent patients. In addition, some drugs such as cocaine act directly on the nucleus accumbens, generating that momentary ecstasy that causes its subsequent depression and, as a consequence, the anxious search by our brain for that drug – withdrawal syndrome. So yes, love places and a lot.

What you feel is called obsession

When dopamine levels are this high, the activity of serotonin-releasing centers plummets. You might think that this is a contradiction considering that serotonin is commonly known as the neurotransmitter of happiness. But let’s not forget that each thing has its function depending on where it acts. Serotonin regulates many behavioral processes that go beyond mood. A drop in this neurotransmitter in prefrontal regions corresponds to what occurs in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). You will understand now that it is normal for you not to get that person out of your mind.

I’m afraid, I’m afraid… Or not

Fear and uncertainty take over all of us when we start a relationship, but cognitive studies that have been carried out with people in love show that our level of alertness decreases when we see the person with whom we are in love. The amygdala is a body of the limbic-emotional- system located in the temporal lobe formed by many neuronal nuclei that regulate motivations and emotions closely related to survival, including fear and flight. In the early stages of falling in love, the activity of the amygdala decreases markedly in the presence or visualization through images of our loved one. Perhaps that is why we are able to jump into the void if necessary.

in one heart

Our brain has mechanisms that make us aware of our own individual identity, of what distinguishes us from the rest and of intuiting how others think based on our differences and similarities in what is known as mentalization or Theory of Mind. When we fall in love, the prefrontal, parietal and parietal-temporal junction regions -which we use to mentalize- lower their activity to favor a fusion between two subjects to form a “single loving unit”. Break the border of the self to give rise to a we.

It’s over

Very sorry, everything ends. On the one hand, the phases of falling in love evolve towards a passionate and mature love (12 – 24 months) until reaching compassionate love once the 7 years have passed, in which our brain completely returns to a previous and “normal” state.

On the other hand, sometimes this evolution does not occur because inexplicably love ends. Functional studies in the brains of people who have experienced recent romantic breakups reveal a drop in activity across our entire neural network similar to what happens in people with depression. But don’t worry, everything indicates that this state is also temporary. After all, who has not had their brains broken at some time?

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