While being in love may seem like a complicated, magical occurrence that cannot be explained, brain chemists and researchers would argue otherwise. Syracuse.com reports on a new study by Dr. Stephanie Ortigue and researchers from West Virginia University who found that falling in love involves 12 parts of an individual’s brain, one of which stimulates dopamine receptors in the same way drugs such as cocaine do.
As published and explained in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, scientists used brain imagining (an advanced technology use to study many drug addiction questions and issues) to map the networks within the brain associated with passionate love. These images were then compared with brain images from people who experience other types of love.
The study found that different types of love involve distinct cerebral (brain) networks. Passionate love, for example, involves “emotion, motivation, reward, social cognition, attention, and self-representation or body image. …[And lead to changes in] the levels of a number of chemicals in the besotted brain, including increases in dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, vasopressin, and a decrease of serotonin,” says The Independent.
This study is another indicator to factor into the impact of dopamine and other brain chemicals that contribute to addiction. By finding out what charges these chemicals and what their resulting reactions are, scientists will be able to know why people have the reactions they do to various causes. For example, a study like Ortingue’s could help explain why other studies have found that a person can have withdrawal symptoms from love and heartbreak.