Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Do you love with your heart or your mind?

March 1, 2013

A Valentine heart may symbolize romance, but advances in medical science have revealed that the path to true love lies directly through the brain. When you feel that first delightful rush of attraction toward someone, you can thank the ventral tegmental, part of the brain which pumps out dopamine and other feel-good hormones that make your body buzz. As you realize this attraction is growing into something more lasting than a crush, it may be a sign that your nucleus accumbens has begun producing oxytocin, a powerful component of emotional bonding. This is the same chemical that helps mothers bond with their babies. If all goes as planned in the relationship, love finally arrives at the caudate nuclei, twin regions of the brain in which are stored ingrained knowledge and habits, such as how to ride a bicycle. It is here in long-term storage that the thrill of love transforms into a lifelong romantic commitment.

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