This Is Your Brain on Love, According to Science

Love is more than just a feeling, ladies and gents. It’s a full-on brain takeover! Science shows that love activates multiple brain regions associated with pleasure, reward, bonding, and more. What does all that jargon mean, in simple terms?

Decoding the chemistry of love

When you fall in love, your brain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA) goes into overdrive, releasing dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. This rush of dopamine creates feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Long-term love gets even more interesting, with the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin playing a big role in bonding. Oxytocin helps couples form a deep emotional connection with each other.

To get more technical, love also lights up the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s reward center, leaving you feeling motivated to spend all your time with your loved one. Plus, the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing and memory, gets activated, which is why you have strong emotional memories with your loved one. Love affects various other brain regions too, like the prefrontal cortex (decision-making and emotion regulation), anterior cingulate cortex (conflict resolution), and insula (empathy and emotional understanding).

Must be love on the brain

Interestingly, research suggests that love can actually change the brain over time. People in long-term relationships have been shown to have more gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, which may help them better handle conflicts and stress.

The science of falling in love is an emerging field of study. The exact process of falling in love is complex and still not fully understood. But why not try your own real-world experiment? Love is a wild ride for the brain, involving pleasure, reward, bonding, empathy, and decision making. It’s no wonder why falling in love feels so amazing, and why it can be so challenging to let go.

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