Category Archives: dopamine

Analyzing Love Research


The ancient Greeks called it the “madness of the gods” and has been

given many definitions that are less than positive. The author Sherwood

Anderson called it the “accident of life.” These were words written in an

article by Judith Newman, titled “The Science of Love.”

What I find fascinating is that along with scientists studying germs,

diseases and trying to find cures, they have studied Love! There are

some definite interesting findings and I hope that you will enjoy sharing

these with me. If you have any additions or subtractions, feel free to

mention your “research” and “analysis!”

When researchers use MRI’s to look at brain activity, ones who declare

they are “in love” are more likely to have hormones and neurological

reactions, triggering all over the brain. There are 4 compounds, dopamine,

norepinephrine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Each play a different role in the

process that is so complex, I may only outline the parts I understood

while reading in a few different areas.

Dopamine does equate with addiction. You are truly focused on your

loved one, you are desiring more time with him or her, too. While

together, dopamine is released as a pleasurable reward that your

brain gives you a “high” from. But, to deflate the loving the opposite

sex a little, this can also happen while eating chocolates, hitting a

hole in one or jumping out of an airplane! Liquor lowers inhibitions

along with suspicion of increasing dopamine. I think that there are

several people who would agree that alcohol played some part in

an anniversary celebration or an initial intimate moment! Dopamine

is associated with a “high” that is from engaging in risky behavior.

There you go!

Norepinephrine is attributed with extra energy, which accounts for

those all night dancing, then eating and lying under the stars sharing

thoughts, those exciting moments in a budding romance! It is also

attributed to sleeplessness, elation, loss of appetite and “butterflies

in the stomach.” Sounds like my first crushes!

Serotonin is a neurochemical that creates feelings of calm, that

seems like an unusual reaction to love! Well, as I read further,

it turns out, that we have LOWER levels of serotonin during

our beginning stages of love. This can be extrapolated into

why we are anxious for the phone to ring, obsessive while

thinking about our beloved.

Oh, great! this fact will thrill those who wish to not gain any

weight! In 2004, a study of 24 young people in Italy, at the

University of Pisa, were found to have higher levels of the

stress hormone, which is called cortisol than those who

were not in love. This seems like a small pool of people to

base this study on, but very interesting. I have always read

that “happy” people gain weight. So, this goes hand in had with

the Italian study. More pasta, anyone?

Some studies have verified that men’s testosterone levels are

lowered while in a state of “love” while women’s have been

raised. This is funny, when you think about it! Men can be

“tamed” and women can be more “wild!”

Oxytocin is the lovely way that a woman creates a bond during

breastfeeding. It is “the hormone of attachment and emotional

empathy.” Can you imagine this? They have been able to give

a person an intranasal oxytocin and then the person will look

more deeply into the eyes of the person they love, along with

feeling a greater sense of trust!

When we talk about “not feeling it” or people “aren’t that into

another,” we are talking “Chemistry!” Some scientists attribute

this to pheromones.  The messengers that influence the behavior

and mood of others, which we exude. I have liked a man simply

because he smelled good, not the cologne or after shave, but

the odor of their sweat or skin with just clean water. No soap.

By the way, it has been a long time since I saw 1992’s “Scent of a

Woman.” (Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, and Gabrielle Anwar, with

Phillip Seymour Hoffman) It won several Academy Awards, also

had some beautiful messages about love!

Wasn’t that a great movie?

Pheromones are still considered controversial and not proven

to exist. I just was giving a personal flavor and thought to the

possibility that we are drawn to someone besides outer surface

attraction, but a deeper connection. That makes me feel like it

becomes more like we are “meant to be together.”

The good news I discovered for all those long term couples out

there: even after many years of loving the same person, there

is still a greater activation in serotonin and elevated calmness,

along with pleasurable feelings, too. Pictures of their loved ones

brought images (brain scans) of higher levels of dopamine. That

combination creates a secure and longlasting phase of love.

Cheers to forever love!