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February 14, 2007

Science: Love Addictive Like Crack, Research Finds

Well, they say cocaine.

The effects of love on the brain are similar to those of cocaine, according to a team that has studied scans of lovestruck people.

Romantic love could be an emotion as fundamental as hunger or thirst, according to the brain scans of young men and women who had fallen madly in love, or were lovelorn, by Arthur Aron, a social psychologist at The State University of New York at Stony Brook.


While participants felt many different emotions when thinking of the person they loved, they all had one thing in common – they all showed activation in the ventral tegmental area, the right posterodorsal body and the medial caudate nucleus of the brain, according to the journal Monitor on Psychology.

These dopamine-rich regions "signal satiation of deep needs", said Prof Fisher. "All basic drives are associated with the dopamine system, and so is romantic love."

Known as the motivation-and-reward system of the brain, the regions appear to be active whenever people get something they deeply desire – food, water, cocaine or perhaps just a girlfriend's phone call in the case of teenage boys.

Prof Fisher said: "Addictions are very powerful, and cocaine addiction is associated with dopamine systems." She also speculated that the increase in energy people newly in love experience may be due to a flush of dopamine.


Raj Persaud, Gresham Professor for Public Understanding of Psychiatry, who organised a Daily Telegraph online Valentine's experiment, said: "What this research is adding to is our understanding that love is one of the stongest of the basic drives – people when in love do extraordinary things."

Cute Valentine's Day take-away: Awwww.

Less cute take-away: Stupid accidents of brain chemistry conspire to make us do stupid things for no particularly good reason.

Thanks to Allah. Gee, I wonder which is his take-away.

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posted by Ace at 04:07 PM

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