Mar 19, 2015 10:58 AM EDT
According to the recent study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, after scanning the brains of 100 students, scientists are now able to relate some of the changes in brain activity to love. A third of the 100 students were hopelessly in love which increased their neuronal activity in several of the brain regions. One of them was the reward circuitry.
When the scans of students in love were compared to the scans of students who were out of love, they realized that there was increased neuronal activity in the students who were in love.
The researchers say that these findings help shed light on the underlying neural mechanisms of romantic love and demonstrate that the methods used could represent a valid way to investigate love.
But what exactly is love?
According to psychologists, love is "a motivational state associated with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a specific other person."
Though the psychologist's definition does not provide more insight into other effects of love such as euphoria, craving, obsession, risk-taking and even personality changes, it is clear that love is a complex mix of cognitive, emotional and behavioral components.
There has been an increasing about of interest in this subject over the years, but the researchers were only studying the specific parts of the brain that are associated with particular tasks, such as looking at a photograph of a loved one.
For the investigation of this study, an international team of researchers was formed from institutions in China and New York who then enrolled 100 healthy college students from the Southwest University who were above the age of 18.
These 100 students were then divided into 3 categories based on their current romantic relationship status: "in-love" category consisted of people who were deeply in love, "ended-love" category consisted of people who had recently ended a relationship, and the "single" category consisting of people who never have been in a relationship.
Even though this research had interesting findings, however, it is necessary to note that the study wasn't conducted over time and therefore the researchers were not able to study the levels of brain activity before the students were falling in love. Also, it is reliant on the students' classification of whether they are being in love or not, which is subjective.
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