‘You had me at hello’ – Love at First Sight

Valentine’s day is upon us. With love hearts adorning every shop window, radio stations playing non-stop love songs and an army of loved up teddy bears invading homes there is never a better time to look at the science of love.

A recent meta-analysis has indicated that falling in love can take a little as a fifth of a second and can produce similar euphoric effects to cocaine.

“These results confirm love has a scientific basis,” says Stephanie Ortigue who conducted the study at Syracuse University. The study has shown 12 areas of the brain work simultaneously to release chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopressin, bringing about euphoria when falling in love.

It was also found that the nerve growth factor levels also increased, especially in those who had just fallen in love. Ortigue claims that while this is interesting in terms of being a neuroscience curiosity it could have potential therapeutic possibilities for those suffering depression after heartbreak. She says “”By understanding why they fall in love and why they are so heartbroken, they can use new therapies.”

Now for anyone that has ever been down about a failed relationship that is no doubt a tempting solution, a pill to cure heartache would sell in the millions. However, having seen ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minds’ I am wary of using science to get rid of heart break!

Alternatively you could look at this information in another way. If researchers are claiming that by understanding the chemical process they may be able to treat a broken heart, could they then not use the same knowledge to create love? Will we end up with a situation where married couples on hard times can have chemical and hormonal therapies to fall back in love with each other? I doubt it as the comments by comments by Ortigue seem to be no more than the typical ‘5-10 year’ theoretical enhancements the media loves.

But can you use this information to impact on the success of dates you have tonight, no? Although, if it does all go wrong then blaming biochemistry might bring a little bit of comfort.



ResearchBlogging.org

Ortigue S, Bianchi-Demicheli F, Patel N, Frum C, & Lewis JW (2010). Neuroimaging of love: fMRI meta-analysis evidence toward new perspectives in sexual medicine. The journal of sexual medicine, 7 (11), 3541-52 PMID: 20807326

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15 thoughts on “‘You had me at hello’ – Love at First Sight

  1. Why would anyone want to “heal” a broken heart? Isn’t that suffering and reflection what makes you, you? What pushes character growth? All this talk of ending suffering right down to uncomfortable emotions reeks suspiciously of Brave New World. Without suffering there can be no happiness.

    Comfortably numb, anyone? Why are people spending money on these studies?

    • I agree completely, it is the hard times and not the easy that shapes a personality. But, at the same time I do think that if they could, during times of heartache, a significant proportion of people would take a pill to make themselves feel better.

      I highly doubt the claims that this research is ever going to bring about the “therapies” suggested by the researcher. But I do think that it is an interesting discovery, and any new information about the science behind our consciousness is worth funding, although admittedly this is just a meta-analysis.

  2. How can a meta-analysis show that a person can fall in love in 0.2 seconds? Did they work it out based on the time it takes for a neuron to release dopamine, oxytocin, etc or the average time for those brain regions to react to stimuli? Like a lot of meta-analysis it makes a good headline, but I’d be interested to hear the assumptions which went into that result and the scientific definition of ‘love’.

  3. As someone who has always been intrigued by the notion of love at first sight, and what goes on in our brains/hearts when we fall in love and lust, I found this article interesting. I do believe that we sometimes dn’t fall in love with the person themselves, but rather, the way we feel when we’re with said person. The “flutter” our heart feels when we see them or spend time with them, its THAT feeling that we enjoy, just like the rush we get from other pleasurable activities. This is my non-scientific conclusion, at least. As for a broken heart, I do think you need to slowly get over it in order to “get over it.” No pill will help, because your body needs time to heal and go through the various stages. Thanks again for posting this article.

    • Interesting that one broken heart can be instaneously repaired by falling in love again. Hence the saying ‘caught on the rebound’ which refers to a person who having suffered a major love loss quickly forming a new partnership. So in that sense a person is caught by the idea of love or lust rather than by a person.

  4. Very interesting post, I agree that it is the hardship and dilemma’s that shape a persons character and outlook on life and to take them feelings away would lead to the Equilibrium type world – but that is an extreme, it’s not that far-fetched when you look at medication available today, there’s already pills to calm children, and of course anti-depressants – heartbroken has some similar symptoms to being depressed, it wasn’t long ago that people suffering with depression were told chin up, just get on with it & pull yourself together….. sounds a lot like the cliché’s told to people who’ve just had their heart broken don’t you think?! So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cure for heartache on the shelves in my time at all.

    “It was also found that the nerve growth factor levels also increased,” sorry if I’m being dense here but what type of nerves are you talking about? the nerves in the brain or all nerves in general?

  5. As someone currently experiencing above mentioned heartbreak I would definitely take the pill if it was available in shops tomorrow! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Piège de cristal[lisation] « myunfunnyvalentine

  7. this maybe a new findings, but frankly this is opposing the nature of human life. We have marriage as a sacrament from which a very important factor to consider is mutual affection and love. Alteration of feelings using science loses its essence. There are things that are better left alone, raw and untouched by the technology and knowledge we have on hand just because it feels better, and it is indeed better that way.

  8. David Miller writes about how love is nothing more than reciprocity patterns in long term relationships. But this is a very interesting article, I had never really thought of love in a physiological way.

  9. You had me at hello? Is that really possible? i think it is. It is probably more possible than achieving anything with so called pick up lines. There are many discussions on pick up lines. Are they any good? are they success in any case? Well, the answer is not that easy. I mean, if you expect to seduce somebody with: “Wanna have sex while we eat pizza? What’s the matter, don’t you like pizza?”, then you expect too much out of pick up lines. They may be good chat openers, that is true. But to seduce somebody with pickup line like that? I don’t think so! I actually found this particular one (and many others, some in fact really good) on: http://www.thebestpickuplines.net

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