Valentines day Mindfunda Thought: your brain is in love on Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day Mindfunda Thought:  You’re in love, that means your brain is in love.

What does love in the brain look like? Let’s explore:  Valentines day, your brain in love. On February 14th, Valentine’s day,  a lot of couples will celebrate their commitment, children will write a card full of compliments for their parents and you might just want to send a nice card to that one good single girlfriend just to let her know she is appreciated.
But what is that love-thing? Neurological? How does Valentines day look inside your brain?

During al the decades of research, love still remains a mystery. It is an ancient, complex intertwining of the neurological system, the hormones, and the mind. You do not fall in love with everyone you see. Most of the time, there is only one person that makes your heart beat faster.

In the brain in MRI scans there is an increased activity in the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) of the brain. The award system runs overtime, dopamine crushes your brain: you are addicted.

A psychologist called Arthur Aron, professor psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook has experimented with ways to fall in love. He wrote a book about it: Love and the expansion of Self. Here is how you do it:

  • find a complete stranger.
  • talk to that person for at least half an hour about intimate details of each others lives: what are your goals, what do you love most, what would constitute a perfect day for you, tell your life story and ask the other person to do the same .
  • the last four minutes, without talking, stare into each others’ eyes.
Love and the expansion of Self, Arthur Aron, Elaine Aron
Love and the expansion of Self, Arthur Aron, Elaine Aron

Well if that doesn’t woo your stranger, don’t worry. In recent years Dr. Helen Fisher did research about why we fall in love with certain people and not with others. According to her insights there are three motivators for love. The Sex drive, driven by testosterone. Romantic Attraction driven by dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin and Attraction driven by oxytocin and vasopressin. The activity in the nucleus accumbent suggests that love is highly addictive. We crave, we become obsessed, we become anxious when we fall in love.

But why do we fall in love with a certain person rather then with any person walking around, being single and available? Here is where the brilliance of Helen Fisher comes in. She discovered 4 types of people. 

  • Curious energetic types driven by dopamine. The people who like to travel and discover new things. Optimistic, unreflective, sensation seekers. Those people like people who are like them.
  • Cautious/norm compliant people driven by serotonin. These are the people who can organize, who are structured and rule driven. Those people like people who are like themselves.
  • Analytical/tough minded people driven by testosterone. Decisive, bold and direct, they like to get to the point. Those people like the Prosocial/empathic people.
  • Prosocial/Empathic people driven by estrogen and oxytocin. They see the big picture, linguistically skilled, trusting, seek harmony, diplomatic. These people are drown to the Analytical/tough minded people.
Why him? Why her? Helen Fisher Ph.D

Most of all just enjoy Valentines day. Treat yourself to something nice, a sunset, a good lunch, laughing with friends, a good book about the brain and most of all the company of the people you love.
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