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You Found Love Where?

Posted July 05, 2012 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

Hearts equal love. At least that's what Valentine's Day and pop culture has instilled in us. However, how the <3 became a symbol for love is an interesting but rather long-winded story. And as romantic as a broken-heart sounds, love actually originates in the brain. What makes this even more confusing is being able to distinguish between love and desire. Both mental states are invoked by an intense longing to be with another person, and are therefore often difficult to disentangle from one another.

Image Credit: iheartguts.com

A recent international study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has been the first to draw an exact brain map of love and desire. Although the scientists were skeptical, they found that love and desire activate specific, but related areas in the brain.

Many studies have been done to examine the brain while subjects engaged in tasks such as viewing erotic pictures or looking at pictures of their significant others. The group analyzed the results of 20 of these studies. They found that the insula, located deep in the cerebral cortex, and the striatum, located in the forebrain, are responsible for tracking the progression from sexual desire to love. The two emotions activate different parts of the striatum. Sexual desire activates an area of the striatum associated with things that are inherently pleasurable, such as sex or food. Love activates an area associated in the process of conditioning by which things are paired with reward or pleasure, and are given inherent valve. This means that as sexual desire turns to love, they are processed in different parts of the striatum.

The striatum is the yellow/red part in the middle. Image Credit: FARS News Agency

What I found interesting is that this area of the striatum is also the part of the brain associated with drug addiction. This makes sense, since love is actually a habit. It's formed when the desire part of 'sexual desire' is rewarded (and subsequently can be hard to break the habit.)

And while there are always extreme cases, love in general is not considered a bad habit. Love works with different pathways in the brain that are involved in monogamy and in pair bonding. It can actually decrease activity in certain parts of the brain when it is not associated with desire. "While sexual desire has a specific goal, love is more abstract and complex, so it's less dependent on the physical presence of someone else," says Pfaus, a professor at Concordia University.

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I want to know where love is

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#1

Re: You Found Love Where?

07/05/2012 5:42 AM

On a training course <tremble>.

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#2

Re: You Found Love Where?

07/07/2012 5:04 PM

If you are putting forward this sort of article, you should start with your definition (or at least a definition) of love and desire. Otherwise the rest is meaningless tosh, replete with false assumptions and misunderstandings, and then years of hard work and research achieves less than telling nobody nothing.

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Re: You Found Love Where?

05/17/2019 8:01 AM

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