Friday, June 03, 2005

The Neurology of Infatuation

There's an interesting New York Times article about a study in which researchers did functional MRI scans of college students who were newly in love. An excerpt:

[Romantic love] is closer in its neural profile to drives like hunger, thirst or drug craving, the researchers assert, than to emotional states like excitement or affection. As a relationship deepens, the brain scans suggest, the neural activity associated with romantic love alters slightly, and in some cases primes areas deep in the primitive brain that are involved in long-term attachment.

Apparently the area of the brain known as the caudate nucleus is of central importance:

This passion-related region was on the opposite side of the brain from another area that registers physical attractiveness, the researchers found, and appeared to be involved in longing, desire and the unexplainable tug that people feel toward one person, among many attractive alternative partners.

This distinction, between finding someone attractive and desiring him or her, between liking and wanting, "is all happening in an area of the mammalian brain that takes care of most basic functions, like eating, drinking, eye movements, all at an unconscious level, and I don't think anyone expected this part of the brain to be so specialized," Dr. Brown said.


Regarding the credibility of this study, Dr. Hans Breiter, director of the Motivation and Emotion Neuroscience Collaboration at Massachusetts General Hospital, said, "I distrust about 95 percent of the M.R.I. literature and I would give this study an 'A'; it really moves the ball in terms of understanding infatuation love."

Read the whole thing before the link expires.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

So once again science transforms metaphor into truism.

And makes Bryan Ferry (and Robert Palmer!) look like a prophet.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous cancer said...

this issue of Neurology is very interesting, I like to learn more information about this as it is very interesting, thanks!

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Timothy said...

Awesome!

1:46 AM  
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