February 17, 2024 at 8:33 am

Science Confirms Love Actually Does Leave A Mark And It Could Unlock New Ways To Treat Mental Illness

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

Anyone who has ever been in love – really in love – could never doubt that those relationships change you.

And not in a surface way, but the actual person you are all the way down to your bones – for better or worse.

Now, science is ready to tell us that we’ve been right all along.

The flush of first love (that mix of excitement, nerves and lust) is nothing but a flood of dopamine. It overwhelms your brain’s reward center, and your brain (and the rest of you) will do whatever it can to keep those hits coming.

Source: YouTube

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder, include senior author Zoe Donaldson, say this simple hormone flood explains a lot.

“What we have found love, essentially, is a biological signature of desire that helps us explain why we want to be with some people more than other people.”

To reach their conclusions, they studied prairie voles, since they form monogamous pair bonds like humans.

Like us, they stay together long term, holing up together and raising their offspring as a pair. They even express grief when their mate passes.

“As humans, our entire social world is basically defined by different degrees of selective desire to interact with different people, whether it’s your romantic partner or your close friends. This research suggests that certain people leave a unique chemical imprint on our brain that drives us to maintain these bonds over time.”

Source: YouTube

Their neuroimaging technology measured what was happening in the voles’ brains as they tried to reach their mate. Tiny fiber optic sensors tracked the small mammals’ brain activity – specifically in the nucleus accumbens, which is responsible for seeking out rewards.

This is the same area that lights up in human brains when they hold their partner’s hand.

The voles had similar responses to finding and getting able to touch their partner. When they got through the puzzle and found a strange vole on the other side, their brains did not produce the same happy response.

 “This suggests that not only is dopamine really important for motivating us to seek out our partner, but there’s actually more dopamine coursing through our reward center when we are with our partner than when we are with a stranger.”

Dopamine also plays a role in allowing mammals like us (and the voles) to move on after a breakup or a divorce, freeing us up to form a new bond.

Source: YouTube

Researchers found that, if they kept voles apart for at least four weeks and then reunited them, the dopamine spike was all but gone.

“We think of this as sort of a reset within the brain that allows the animal to now go on and potentially form a new bond.”

Source: YouTube

At least, they think these results will translate to humans as well. As always with scientific research, more studies – this time on humans – will certainly happen.

“The hope is that by understanding what healthy bonds look like within the brain, we can begin to identify new therapies to help the many people with mental illnesses that affect their social world.”

Wouldn’t that be nice for so many people?

Check out the video:


As for the rest of us, well…the good news is, that longing you feel now probably won’t last forever.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.