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Brain, not the heart, drives you to fall in love

Ahead of Valentine's Day, a new study has claimed that intense romantic feelings actually come from your brain, not from the heart.

sex and relationships Updated: Feb 20, 2012 12:59 IST
A-couple
A-couple

Ahead of Valentine's Day, a new study has claimed that intense romantic feelings actually come from your brain, not from the heart.

Researchers at the State University of New York found that it is the brain, not the heart, which plays a major role in falling in love.

In one small study, the researchers looked at magnetic resonance images of the brains of 10 women and seven men who claimed to be deeply in love.

The length of their relationships ranged from one month to less than two years. Participants were shown photographs of their beloved, and photos of a similar-looking person.

The brains of the smitten participants reacted to photos of their sweethearts, producing emotional responses in the same parts of the brain normally involved with motivation and reward.

"Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs," said study co-author Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University, was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

In other words, you start to crave the person you're in love with like a drug, the researchers said.

Experts have said that romantic love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can have. Humans' brains have been wired to choose a mate, and we humans become motivated to win over that mate, sometimes going to extremes to get their attention and affection.

"You can feel happy when you're in love, but you can also feel anxious," said co-author, Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "The other person becomes a goal in life," essentially, a prize.

Brown said that the reward part of the brain, also dubbed the pleasure center, is an essential part of the brain needed to survive. "It helps us recognise when something feels good," she added.