What’s love? Mere chemical reactions, explains Allahabad University scientist | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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What’s love? Mere chemical reactions, explains Allahabad University scientist

At a time when love seems to be in air, courtesy Valentine Day, here is a scientist who says it’s just a chemical reaction.

lucknow Updated: Feb 14, 2018 16:00 IST
K Sandeep Kumar
“It is a plain reaction of chemicals secreted by the brain,” says professor SI Rizvi, eminent biochemist of Allahabad University.
“It is a plain reaction of chemicals secreted by the brain,” says professor SI Rizvi, eminent biochemist of Allahabad University.

Some call it elixir of life. Some say it’s blind, and beyond logic.

At a time when love seems to be in air, courtesy Valentine Day, here is a scientist who says it’s just a chemical reaction.

“It is a plain reaction of chemicals secreted by the brain,” says professor SI Rizvi, eminent biochemist of Allahabad University.

“The pleasure associated with the feeling of ‘being in love’ comes from the effect of a class of chemicals known as endorphins which act on the brain much the same way as opioids,” says Rizvi who is known worldwide for his work on decoding aging and emotions.

Rizvi’s work on aging and emotions was last published in American research journal ‘Life Sciences.’

Explaining the scientific view, Rizvi says the emotion of romantic love also comes with an increase in dopamine and nor epinephrine levels in the brain.

Rizvi’s work on aging and emotions was last published in American research journal ‘Life Sciences.’ (HT Photo)

These chemicals create connections in the brain which make the brain more emotionally attached to the ‘loved one’ and activate the reward centre of the brain leading to a pleasurable experience, says the scientist.

So what prompted him to decode love, scientifically?

“Extreme reactions and sacrifices of people sharing deep bond of love and their public display prompted me to study the chemistry of emotions,” he says of what in common parlance is perceived as ‘chemistry’ between two people, who are in love.

Further explaining the chemistry behind the phenomenon, Rizvi says, “Another hormone which adds to the chemical relationship of romantic love is oxytocin secreted from the pituitary gland present in the brain. Oxytocin is now recognized as a love hormone. It is released during hugging and intimate touch and plays a strong role in sexual relationships. Researches have shown that oxytocin is one of the hormones that can facilitate bonding in other animals,” says Rizvi.

According to Prof Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, USA, romantic love is a primary motivation system and a fundamental human mating drive.

According to Fisher, who has done seminal work in the area of love and selection of partners, extensive cross-cultural studies show that men respond more strongly than women to visual signals of youth and beauty. Conversely, women are more attracted to potential partners who offer resources and status.

“Understanding the role that chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin play in the emotions associated with romantic love will be instrumental in our figuring out just how much neurobiology dictates the perception of our emotions, says Rizvi, who is planning to take up further studies on decoding the phenomenon called love.