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What Happens to Your Brain When You’re in Love

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What Happens to Your Brain When You’re in Love?

Being “in love” largely plays upon the “feel-good” hormone dopamine, as well as oxytocin and vasopressin.

What is Dopamine?

According to University Health News Daily, dopamine is the “feel-good” hormone that plays a vital role in coordination, movement, bliss, and our sense of accomplishment. It also affects our sleep, mood, our short term memory, and our ability to concentrate.

Your brain releases dopamine when you feel pleasure. Whenever you listen to your favorite song, finish a major project, or kiss that someone special, dopamine comes stomping in.


Source: My Brain 11 | Penelope Peru Photography P³

Due to dopamine’s role in our sense of accomplishment and pleasure, drugs that increase the dopamine levels in our brains – caffeine, nicotine, methamphetamines, etc… are highly addictive.

Excess levels of dopamine in the brain can produce symptoms of psychosis. On the other hand, a dopamine deficiency can leave you feeling depressed or tremoring.

What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin has commonly been referred to as the “love-hormone” although it doesn’t make people fall in love with one another; rather, it reinforces the love you already feel for someone else. It is associated with our sense of trust and increases our bonds to others.

During a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America (PNAS), researchers gave 20 heterosexual males a dose of oxytocin prior to measuring their brain activity through a functional-MRI (f-MRI) scan. They showed them pictures of their significant other, female friends of theirs, and attractive women who they had never met before. Then, the men had to compare all of the women to their significant other.

The researchers found their participants felt more attracted to their partner and less attracted to the unfamiliar woman when comparing the two. It’s also worth noting the researchers did not find any change in how attracted they were to their partner or female friend when comparing their pictures.

This study is a perfect example of how oxytocin doesn’t make people feel attracted to one another, it only reinforces preexisting relationships in comparison to strangers.

What is Vasopressin?

According to Everyday Health, vasopressin is a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating bodily functions such as our sleep and wake cycles, internal body temperature, blood volume, as well as our urinary tract.

Vasopressin is released by both men and women during sex, however the effects are more potent in men due to how it interacts with the male sex hormone testosterone.

In a study published by the Southwest University of Chongquin China, researchers found male prairie voles with higher levels of vasopressin were more faithful to their female partners. Whereas males with lower levels of vasopressin neglected their female partners as well as their own offspring.

Similar results were found in humans. The level of vasopressin correlated with marital status as well as the quality of marriage between heterosexual men and women in research published in PNAS.

These studies support the conclusion that vasopressin is a key factor in the strength of our bonds with others, particularly in men.

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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