This Is Your Brain on Love...

The Brain on Love

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Remember when you fell in love with your fiancé? You didn't even have a sip of wine that day back in July, but you felt light, happy—absolutely drunk with love in his presence. Well, science has an interesting explanation for this. As it turns out, our brains on love are an interesting case study.

"Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions," said Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). "This internal elixir of love is responsible for making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race."

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According to experts, here's what's going on: Basically, when we fall in love, our brains are drenched in substances called dopamine (euporia), adrenaline and norepinephrine (restlessness), a heavy cocktail of love chemicals that increase when we develop true feelings for another.

In a series of past studies, scientists have reported that when we are in love, the pleasure centers of the brain are often lit up like a Christmas tree. Interestingly, the higher blood flow to this area is also seen in people with obsessive-compulsive behaviors (which explains why you weren't acting like yourself that first month of dating your guy).

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Love researchers (yes, there is such a thing) say there are three phases to love, at least from the brain's perspective:

Lust: When we first meet, see someone from across the room and have an instant physical reaction—this phase is hormone-driven, say experts, and the immediate feeling is desire.

Attraction: During this phase, mutual attraction grows and blood to the pleasure centers of the brain increases. Cue the dopamine!

Attachment: During this phase, the body actually creates a tolerance to the pleasure hormones that have been raging and in turn, endorphins and hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin take over, which provide a sense of happiness and even security, say the experts.

So that's it, your brain... on love!

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