Does the heart fall in love, or the brain?

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Remember the expression ‘losing your heart to someone’? Well you might have lost your brain instead, according to a new study that claims it’s your brain and not your heart that makes you fall in love.

Stephanie Ortigue at Syracuse University said that falling in love can elicit not only the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain –what’s more – it only takes about a fifth of a second to fall in love.

Results from Ortigue’s team revealed when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression.

The feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image.

So, does the heart fall in love, or the brain?

“I would say the brain, but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart and vice versa,” said Ortigue.

“Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may sometimes be coming from the brain,” she added.

The team also found that blood levels of nerve growth factor, or NGF were also high in couples, which had just fallen in love. This molecule involved plays an important role in the social chemistry of humans, or the phenomenon ‘love at first sight.’

“These results confirm love has a scientific basis,” said Ortigue.

The findings have major implications for neuroscience and mental health research because when love doesn’t work out, it can be a significant cause of emotional stress and depression.

By identifying the parts of the brain stimulated by love, doctors and therapists can better understand the pains of love-sick patients.

The results of the study are published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine .

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This post was submitted by Remya.

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