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US study: brain activity proves lifelong love
Researchers make emotions visible and provide evidence of lifelong love. The team led by Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron from Stony Brook University in the US state of New York has demonstrated similar activity patterns in the brains of happy long-term couples and newly in love.
As part of a study, US scientists compared the brain activity of people in a long-term happy partnership with that of newly in love, with an astonishing result: Long-married people who describe themselves as still in love have the same activity patterns in the brain as "Freshly in love". In addition, long-term lovers showed less activity in areas of the brain responsible for anxiety and fear, but increased activities in brain regions that are important for affection and bonding, explained the psychologists at Stony Brook University.
MRI makes brain activity visible to lovers. As part of their study, the US scientists examined ten women and seven men, who had been married for an average of 21 years and still stated that they were deeply in love with their partner. While showing the subjects photos of their acquaintances, good friends and life partners' faces, the US researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize and record the activity in the different areas of the brain. The data obtained was then compared with the results of a previous, equally structured study on the brain activities of newly in love people. The scientists published their study in the current issue of the specialist journal "Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience".
Researchers prove lifelong love based on brain activity The response of the test subjects to the images shown with the help of MRI has “many very strong similarities between those who have been in love for a long time and those who have just recently fallen in love like crazy” shown, explained Arthur Aron. The expert bases his statement on the measured activities in the brain areas of the reward system controlled by the brain messenger dopamine and in the so-called basal ganglia, which are also related to reward and motivation. The US scientists emphasized that the activity in these brain areas was significantly higher when the test subjects were shown pictures of their partners instead of photos of friends and acquaintances. The US researchers explained that dopamine-rich brain regions were particularly active in both fresh and old lovers.
Increased activity in numerous brain regions Arthur Aron explained that the dopamine-rich brain regions "Interestingly (...) showed the strongest activity among those from the group of long-term couples who achieved a particularly high number of points in our questionnaire on questions about romantic love and closeness to the partner "In addition, there were signals in the brain regions of the long-term lovers, which had already been associated with intensive, fundamental relationships and bonds in previous studies, said the US researchers. For example, significantly higher activities were measured in brain regions that are involved in mother-child bonding, the US psychologists report.
Happiness hormones: reward system is activated by love The researchers assume that the increased release of the so-called happiness hormone dopamine in a happy long-lasting relationship will keep the reward character. For years, being with the partner triggers a relatively constant activity in the brain's reward center and gives the old love a feeling of wellbeing that is comparable to the freshly in love, explained Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron. However, other areas of the brain that are responsible for fundamental bonds and trusting affection seem to be involved in this lasting well-being and the maintenance of romantic love, according to the US researchers' conclusion in relation to their current study. (fp)