Science love

Last updated on March 23, 2015 | by Aet Suvari


Is love real – or all in the mind?

Is love a predictable pattern of chemicals interacting in the brain or something more magical that can bond people together for life…

We’ve recently written a few articles about online dating from a scientific perspective – how scientists are both illuminating and debunking love as we know it and how soon enough it may be possible to ‘cure’ heartache with a pill since it’s largely a chemical reaction.

It’s hardly surprising that love offers endless possibilities of study for scientists as it really is an endless resource that humankind isn’t likely to run out of any time soon.

Or is it? I recently read another article with further scientific claims that love is only our imagination and doesn’t really exist in the outside world. It happens only inside our brains, much like a thought, a behavioural pattern or an obsession.

Scientists believe they’ve found out what this emotion, that we perceive as the feeling of being in love, looks like in our brain. They’ve taken MRI scans of the brains of people in love and compared them with scans of those who don’t claim to be in love. What they found was that people who say they’re in love have a dozen areas in their brain that seem to be affected by that feeling.

What is love then?

What does all of this mean? It means that love alters the brain in a specific way – it makes certain areas more or less active in the brain, thus making it possible for scientists to “see” love in their computer screens. Much like illness it can now be diagnosed. And just as interestingly it is now possible to diagnose when people start falling “out” of love.

More important than knowing that these things actually show up in brain scans is the question of what this information might be used for. If love is something that happens in our minds then surely that means it’s soon possible to alter that state of mind with specific drugs or other ways of simulation

Also, it must be possible to actually induce that state of mind in someone’s mind in quite a similar manner. And that’s already a scary thought – the thought that we can’t really have any control over who we love. It almost makes you question whether scientists should meddle in these murky waters in the first place.

On the other hand it’s a little bit sad – the idea of love that only happens inside our brains. It’s not very romantic to realise that the life-changing moment of falling head over heels in love was nothing else but a neurochemical process altering the way our brain works. However, it still doesn’t completely explain the magic that happens simultaneously when two people fall in love at the same time.

So – the conclusion… is love real? Maybe love is only a neurochemical process going on in our mind. But I think it’s appropriate to use one of the undying quotes of Dumbledore here. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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