Is marriage extropic?
Or is love extropic?
Imaging the Neural Correlate of Romantic Love.
S. Zeki and A. Bartels , University College London, UK.
We have, for the first time, localised the areas of the human brain involved
in evoking one of the most overwhelming of all affective states, that of
romantic love. The activity in the brains of 17 subjects (11 female, all
gave written consent) who were 'truly and madly' in love was scanned using
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), while they viewed pictures of
their loved partners and compared to the brain activity evoked when they
viewed pictures of three friends of similar age, sex and duration of
friendship. A statistical analysis was performed using SPM99. The activity
was restricted to bilateral foci in the medial insula and the anterior
cingulate cortex, and, subcortically, in the caudate nucleus and the
putamen. Deactivations were observed in the posterior cingulate gyrus and in
the amygdala and were right-lateralized in the prefrontal, parietal and
middle temporal cortices. An independent component analysis (ICA) isolated
these regions in most subjects in components that contained no other
activity. Our results thus show that the visual stimuli which evoke romantic
love result in a particular pattern of differential brain activity involving
a restricted number of sites. Though these sites may overlap partially with
sites evoked in studies involving other affective states such as anger, fear
and sadness, and even happiness and sexual arousal, the pattern observed
here is nevertheless unique and different from that observed with other
affective states. These differences lead us to postulate that the principle
of functional specialisation in the cortex applies as well to affective
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