Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

I want to know where love is: First brain map of love and desire

Date:
June 20, 2012
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
Thanks to modern science, we know that love lives in the brain, not in the heart. But where in the brain is it – and is it in the same place as sexual desire? A recent international study is the first to draw an exact map of these intimately linked feelings.

An international study co-authored by Concordia psychology professor Jim Pfaus finds that love and desire activate specific but related areas in the brain.
Credit: James Steidl / Fotolia

Thanks to modern science, we know that love lives in the brain, not in the heart. But where in the brain is it -- and is it in the same place as sexual desire? A recent international study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine is the first to draw an exact map of these intimately linked feelings.

"No one has ever put these two together to see the patterns of activation," says Jim Pfaus, professor of psychology at Concordia University, member of the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology and a co-author of the study. "We didn't know what to expect -- the two could have ended up being completely separate. It turns out that love and desire activate specific but related areas in the brain."

Along with colleagues in the U.S. and Switzerland, Pfaus analyzed the results from 20 separate studies that examined brain activity while subjects engaged in tasks such as viewing erotic pictures or looking at photographs of their significant others. By pooling this data, the scientists were able to form a complete map of love and desire in the brain.

They found that that two brain structures in particular, the insula and the striatum, are responsible for tracking the progression from sexual desire to love. The insula is a portion of the cerebral cortex folded deep within an area between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe, while the striatum is located nearby, inside the forebrain.

Love and sexual desire activate different areas of the striatum. The area activated by sexual desire is usually activated by things that are inherently pleasurable, such as sex or food. The area activated by love is involved in the process of conditioning by which things paired with reward or pleasure are given inherent value. That is, as feelings of sexual desire develop into love, they are processed in a different place in the striatum.

Somewhat surprisingly, this area of the striatum is also the part of the brain that associated with drug addiction. Pfaus explains there is good reason for this. "Love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as desire is rewarded. It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Concordia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephanie Cacioppo, Francesco Bianchi-Demicheli, Chris Frum, James G. Pfaus, James W. Lewis. The Common Neural Bases Between Sexual Desire and Love: A Multilevel Kernel Density fMRI Analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012; 9 (4): 1048 DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02651.x

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "I want to know where love is: First brain map of love and desire." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620101011.htm>.
Concordia University. (2012, June 20). I want to know where love is: First brain map of love and desire. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620101011.htm
Concordia University. "I want to know where love is: First brain map of love and desire." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620101011.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New numbers show a decade's worth of changes in the number of kids with disabilities. They suggest mental disabilities are up; physical ones are down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Newsy (Aug. 17, 2014) New Hampshire's governor declared a state of emergency after more than 40 overdoses of synthetic marijuana in one week throughout the state. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins