Love is an extremely powerful and enigmatic emotion. Science can never logically summarize its profound significance.
However, let’s see what neuroscience has to say:
When you think about your lover, mostly in a new relationship, there’s activity in the ventral tegmental area of the brain, which releases neurotransmitter dopamine into the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens, the pleasure centers. The lover then experiences a high which is addictive. The brain also experiences raised levels of stress hormone norepinephrine. This increases heart rate and blood pressure, similar effects to the usage of addictive stuff like methamphetamine.
Serotonin gives us a sense of control. It stops us from feeling doubt and uncertainty. It decreases when you’re in love, making us lose control and obsess over things that are unpredictable. Love, being uncertain, becomes a key target of obsession.
When in love, our brain’s prefrontal cortex which is in charge of reason, control, and order, drops to a lower level. Simultaneously, the amygdala which handles our brain’s response to threat also lowers. This combines to make us more reckless and prone to taking risks which we wouldn’t have if we weren’t in love.
Love and lust can coexist- but may not be for the same person
Love and lust might seem separate, but they are both addictive and cause a ‘high’. They are overlapping responses but distinct enough that you can love one person and lust for another. The distinction becomes more obvious over time. Brains of people in long-term relationships show heightened activity in the ventral pallidum, which is rich in oxytocin and vasopressin receptors that encourage attachment and commitment.
Visual stimulation for men in love
Men who are in love have more activity in the visual cortex than women. Men are more visuals based than women when in love.
Attention to details for women in love
Women in love have more activity in the hippocampus, which is linked to memory, than men. Hippocampus in a woman’s brain occupies more space than in a man.
Importance of eye contact
Eye contact enhances emotional connection, which is why it’s so common among babies and lovers. It’s biological when lovers can’t seem to stop talking about their partner’s beautiful gaze. Also, our voices are important in building connection as it contains more information. However, it is not as effective as eye contact.
Promiscuity and monogamy
Scientists who study promiscuity and monogamy love because they reflect human relationships. One kind of vole is monogamous who commits to one mate forever. The other type is promiscuous. The difference lies in genetics because the voles are otherwise 99% identical.
When injected with oxytocin and vasopressin, promiscuous voles became monogamous because of pair-bonding chemicals. It might not have the same results for humans but men inhaling oxytocin have shown signs of being more sensitive and touchy, temporarily.
Men and women can be friends
Men simply don’t get platonic friendships and want more. Women can keep romance and friendship separate.