Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Where is Love?

The new technology of brain studies has added so much to our understanding of emotion, though we still have a long way to go. However, MRIs and fMRIs show us the effect of emotions in (on) the brain, so there's a way to see and measure what goes on.

One grand emotion is LOVE. Of course falling in love is wonderful. It feels wonderful. It's a great antidote to the blahs, the blues, and whatever else ails us. When we're in love everything is wonderful -- inside and out.

We also know it's a great antidote to depression. People who divorce, for instance, may rush into an affair with someone, anyone, just to get those feel-good chemicals racing again. Midlifers may flee to an affair to ease their transition away from youth. And some residential drug rehab facilities keep males and females separated during their treatments, lest they "fall in love," and lose the impetus to work on their programs, addiction often having depression as an underlying factor.

British researchers decided to investigate what region of the brain makes a person fall in love, or feel like they're in love. They studied volunteers who claimed to be "truly and madly" in love -- generally in a relationship of about two (2) years.

The results? When they looked at photographs of their beloveds, their emotional response registered as increased blood flow to four (4) specific areas of the brain, all of them in the limbic region. At the same time, blood flow decreased in the neocortex, an area affected by depression. Also, however, the "thinking" area, and of course we know that people "in love" don't always thik straight.

For the full article, go here.

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