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Saturday, May 14, 2011

GBN | GSMI | O2 WEEKEND | > The chemistry of LOVE

by Dr Damigos; PhD

The chemistry of love: It begins with pheromones, dopamine continues and ends with oxytocin

Professor Semir Zeki  at the Laboratory of Neurobiology, University College London, and Dr Andreas Bartels, a researcher at the Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Max Planck Institute, selected 70 volunteers to demonstrate that love is much like the ... addiction to alcohol and drugs! That's because when you fall in love the brain correlates something with extreme pleasure.
With this finding, agrees Dr. Arthur Eiron, a social psychologist at Stony Brook University in New York, who has worked on the theme of love, and confirmed that the chemistry that triggers the Love Urge, is essentially the same as that which is activated when someone takes cocaine!

The truth is that the chemistry between two people is not just a matter of molecules, dictating us what to feel. The attraction equation, includes the personal story of everyone... upbringing, education, timing, mystery.. says Anthropology Professor Helen E. Fisher, a researcher of human behavior at Rutgers University, and author of five books on the evolution and future of sex, love, marriage, gender differences, and how our personality affects how we fall in and out of love.

The first path, is the initial attraction; the spark! Choose one person among hundreds of others to begin the dance of love. Psychologist Crystal Mark from the University of Buffalo, believes that at this very early stage of love role playing, invisible signals, such as pheromones, do the work. Apart from Pheromones - chemical molecules that dictate sexual behavior., but we cannot consciously smell them, entering through the olfactory system in the brain and make someone attractive to us, - also other sensory information, such as smell, touch, and how and what one sounds in our ears enter into play.
«The smell is very important in love and is one of the features that fit the cultural standards of attractiveness, " Crystal Mark explains. "We must understand that to fall in love, different neurochemical processes must be enabled,  and numerous external stimuli - and our culture certainly plays a central role in them."
After the initial attraction and selection, comes the wild, heady, erotic madness. At this stage, the brain uses the chemical arsenal to focus  attention on one, or the One, disregarding all others. In one of the studies, Dr. Eiron recruited 10 women and seven men who were madly in love with their partners. After ensuring that they are in love, he put them in a functional MRI scanner and began showing them photos of their partner and photos of simple acquaintances.
When the volunteers saw photographs of their partners, the ventral pallidum of the brain was flooded with the chemical Dopamine. The ventral pallidum is a brain region that hosts the award systems and incentives. «Dopamine is produced when we do something that causes us unbridled pleasure, like sex, or taking substances and even having a bite of chocolate, " explains Dr. Larry J.. Yang, professor of psychiatry at the National Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta.to the Los Angeles Times newspaper,.
The activation of the abdominal globus pallidus is mainly responsible for the sometimes bizarre behavior... the excessive energy, loss of sleep, the euphoric state and, sometimes, stress and obsessed with the objet d 'amour. The crazy party that happens in our brain when we fall in love is rooted in our desire to win the biggest prize of life; a companion forever.
As time passes, we begin to bond emotionally with a partner. Scientific research has shown that what motivates us to bond is due to two hormones - the Oxytocin and angeiopresini- entering the play of love after the explosion of dopamine.
Oxytocin is produced in the body during intimate moments, such as prolonged eye contact, hugging and sex. It is also the hormone that makes mothers tied to their babies. And as has been shown in animals, oxytocin is associated with long-term attachment, and scientists estimate that plays the same role in humans.
The angeiopresini, is an antidiuretic hormone, which has been shown to be related with emotional bonding. In addition, a further study showed that certain genetic mutations in the receptor angeiopresinis, are associated with infidelity and fear of commitment.

All the above chemicals and hormones are being released when we fall in love, to ensure that we'll mate and stay together long enough to reproduce the species, or to create long lasting relationships.

But what happens when we get over the initial, intense action?

Until very recently, researchers assumed that couples come finally to what is called, comradely love: A closer relationship, with greater commitment and intimacy, but with much less passion - something like the quiet love, and has been estimated that it occurs after a period ranging from few months to 2-4 years. Dr. Eiron noted that after 4 years of permanent relationship or marriage,  most divorces or separations, are recorded.
Details, however, presented in 2009, by Bianca Atsevento, a postgraduate researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara have shown that this is not the case for everyone. Dr. Atsevento and colleagues examined functional MRI brain activity in couples who claimed to be in love after 20 years of marriage. They discovered the same neural activity observed in fresh love encounters - except that there had been no stress or obsession with his / her partner.  The eternal love of the couples quickly and peacefully solve their differences, speak openly to each other, show affection and spend time to take care of themselves and their relationship.

The key - they say - is to do with the things we enjoy, that rejuvenate us.


What can they be?

New, exciting things, recommends Dr. Eiron. "When we do something new, that excites us, floods our brain with dopamine, and reminisce how we felt when we were madly in love." 

Scientists believe they have a lot to learn from these eternal happy couples, to re-ignite the spark of love. 

And - of course - have sex
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